A former minister at a Texas megachurch was sentenced to a decade in prison for stealing approximately $800,000 from the congregation.
Jerrell Altic, the 40-year-old former pastor at First Baptist Church of Houston, was sentenced on Monday to 10 years for embezzling the large monetary amount over a span of six years, until November 2017.
James Alston, attorney for Altic, said in a statement reported by ABC 13 that his client was “cooperating fully with the district attorney's office” and “knew this day was coming.”
“He feels horrible for what has happened and the pain that has caused everyone at the church and his family members, and he would want me to tell everyone that he's sorry,” said Alston.
In November 2017, church officials discovered through an investigation that Altic had been stealing money from FBC Houston. Altic resigned when confronted with the evidence.
Last December, Altic surrendered to authorities after a Harris County grand jury indicted him for stealing from FBC Houston to pay for personal expenses, including an overseas trip and an honorary doctorate from Lancaster Bible School.
FBC Houston Senior Pastor Gregg Matte released a statement last December explaining that his church kept quiet about the matter due to the sensitivity of the legal procedure.
“While we were unable to inform the church body because of the ongoing investigation, we informed and kept updated the related church committees, including personnel, finance, and missions committees, along with key staff and the deacon body, throughout this process,” Matte said last year.
“These past months have been challenging and painful for us as the extent of Jerrell’s actions came to light and as we wrestled with the tension of wanting to inform the congregation, while also carefully following law enforcement’s lead in the investigation, balancing legal constraints with church procedures.”
Matte added that while the fraudulent activities involved money for missions, all of the church’s ministry partners received their designated funding and that the megachurch's insurance paid out $500,000 for reimbursement purposes.
“As challenging as this discovery has been for everyone involved, we have also been encouraged by the continued generosity and passion for missions work from our congregation — including through generous, unsolicited financial gifts from those who have come to know of his wrongdoing,” he continued.