Former Pastor Gets 15 Years in Prison for Charging $50K on Church's Credit Card

(Photo: Cook County Sheriff's Office)Ex-pastor Bernard Johnson, 47.

A former South Side Chicago pastor who racked up more than $50,000 in unauthorized personal charges on credit cards he opened in the name of his old church was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his crimes on Monday.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, ex-pastor Bernard Johnson, 47, of St. Paul Christian Methodist Episcopal Church pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft from a place of worship.

Although the credit card charges were made between 2008 and 2010, Johnson was not indicted until 2013, according to the report. He was also convicted and sentenced to probation in 2009 for stealing more than $43,000 from a school in Alabama.

The former pastor first secured a Visa credit card at Shore Bank in the church's name in 2008 without authorization. He purchased clothes and groceries in Alabama and Chicago as well as meals at restaurants and other entertainment expenses.

Johnson followed up the 2008 spending spree with another in 2009 which was made on an American Express card in the church's name again. Prosecutors say he purchased clothing, trips, and airline tickets for his family members as well as restaurant tabs, car rentals and hotel stays.

He reportedly listed his tenure at the church in an online resume as beginning in the early 1990s and ending in July 2010 but congregants at the church say he was at the church for less than two years before he was booted.

Johnson who had been in jail for 400 days since he was first indicted was given credit for the time served by Criminal Court Judge Maura Slattery.

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