76-year-old Bridget Pollard, who has dementia and is under the care of the Cook County Public Guardian outside of Chicago, wrote a check for $340,000 to an Ohio megachurch not too long ago. Now, the government agency is suing the church to get the money back, saying they illegally coerced her into giving up her life savings.
Pollard’s niece says Bridget wrote the check out to Pastor Ernest Angley‘s Grace Cathedral in Akron, Ohio — a place she had only visited a few times in the past — because a singer at the church was given power of attorney, somehow, to act on her behalf.
The check was written when Pollard was essentially living in filth in her old home. While the money could have been used to move her into a nursing home, singer Corliss Whitney didn’t bother with that, instead writing a check on Pollard’s behalf to the church.
“She was basically stalked by church to give money,” Dawn Lawkowski-Keller of the Public Guardian’s Office says. “The literature talks about how you’ll go to heaven if you give this money.”
“Miss Whitney became her power of attorney. She tried to petition to become her guardian, which is very unusual,” says Lawkowski-Keller says. “She never once tried to remove her from that bad situation.”
This isn’t even the only lawsuit that the 96-year-old Angley was hit with this week. He’s also being sued for more than $3 million for defaulting on loans taken out by the church’s broadcasting network. Earlier this year, a judge also forced Angley to close his Cathedral Buffet and pay out more than $388,000 in “damages and back wages to employees who… worked as unpaid volunteers.”
And that’s not even the worst of it. Angley has a long history of abusive practices as a religious leader, ranging from pressuring church members to get abortions and vasectomies to ignoring sexual abuse within his ranks.
Taking money from a mentally ill woman isn’t unusual for him. It’s just his latest con.