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Police arrest pastor in check scam

COVINGTON - A pastor of a Conyers church was taken into custody by Covington authorities Wednesday afternoon after he was allegedly caught passing bad checks.

Authorities responded to Covington Check Cashing on Pace Street about 1 p.m., where they made contact with the suspect, Ronald Belton, 41, of 2336 Santa Anna Court, Conyers, according to an incident report completed by Covington Police Department Officer John Seabolt.

Belton, who claimed to be the music director of The Fresh Anointing Christian Life Center, said that the checks were given to him for money he was owed.

After speaking with several people affiliated with the church, however, it was determined that Belton was the pastor of the church and that the account on which the checks were written had been closed for a while, Seabolt said.

"It's extremely clear that the checks he was trying to pass, the account had been closed for quite sometime," said Det. Daniel Seals, spokesman for the CPD.

According to the CPD report, Belton allegedly cashed four checks at the business for a total of $1,150 from Dec. 17 through Dec. 21. He was reportedly attempting to pass a $300 check on Wednesday when he was apprehended.

Belton has been charged with five counts of first-degree forgery and five counts of deposit account fraud.