Texas pastor gets 35 years in prison for stealing 3 church properties in fraud scheme

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A Texas pastor has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after it was discovered that he stole three churches in a deed fraud scheme. 

Whitney Foster, the pastor of the True Foundation Non-Denominational Church, was found guilty of felony theft of three separate Texas churches: First Christian Church of Lancaster, Canada Drive Christian Church, and Church at Nineveh in Dallas.

Foster committed felony theft of $300,000, according to ABC affiliate WFAA. Foster, who had turned down a plea offer for a lesser punishment, testified for four days against the charges, which were combined into a single case.   

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“Stealing real estate is just as much a theft as stealing someone’s purse or car,” prosecutor Phillip Clark told WFAA following the trial. “But it is much more complicated to unwind or fix.”

Despite Foster’s conviction, Clark said the churches were still having to work through problems that continue to arise as a result of the fraud.

“The Canada Drive Christian Church congregation was completely booted out of their church building,” Clark noted. “In the case with Lancaster, they are still trying to fix all the problems he created. Nineveh and Canada are still in his or his church’s name.”

In addition to the three churches, the Dallas County jury also heard evidence during the punishment phase of the trial that seven other properties — mostly church buildings or lots owned by churches — had similar “hallmarks” of deed fraud, according to WFAA. 

Prosecutors showed jurors a May 2021 WFAA report detailing the deed-fraud theft of First Christian Church of Lancaster. The WFAA story unveiled records filed in March 2019 with the Dallas County Clerk, which showed someone claiming to be the church chairman and then deeding the church over to Foster for $10.

In an interview with WFAA, Foster said he thought the building was vacant and had been cutting the grass outside the building. 

WFAA discovered that the former pastor had written a $10 donation to the Lancaster church and claimed that the donation enabled him to own the property. 

“You can acquire a property for $10 with nonprofits,” he said. “The church is community property. … It wasn’t Whitney buying it. Our church was getting it. I was fixing to open up a church there.”

The Rev. Melissa Bitting provided WFAA with a copy of the $10 check. The check was dated March 18, 2019, with a memo line that stated it was a “donation.”

“I cannot imagine the audacity of this gentleman to come and worship with us like he did one Sunday morning before he stole the property,” Bitting said.

The historic church is over 170 years old, making it one of the oldest churches in North Texas. 

Nicole VanDyke is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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