COVINGTON - The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, located at 4228 Mill St. near U.S. Highway 278, has been arrested in connection with the unlawful use of credit cards, according to the Covington Police Department.
Thomas Alan Thompson, 35, of 5132 Forest Drive, has been charged with two counts of financial identity fraud and one count of financial transaction fraud.
"Financial identity fraud occurs when someone uses financial information such as name, date of birth or Social Security number to obtain something of value, in this case credit cards ... acquiring it without the other person's consent," Detective D.J. Seals said. "Financial transaction fraud occurs when a person uses an existing credit card in an illegal manner."
Seals said his investigation into Thompson's alleged activities began March 18, when he learned that the former preacher at the church had been a victim of identity theft.
"He had paperwork and suspected the current preacher," Seals said. "It was not too difficult to ascertain."
Seals said he contacted Thompson and after talking with him, he arrested and charged him in connection with the former minister's financial situation.
"Now, I have indication that there are other victims, and I am contacting those victims today and will make sure they are aware of the situation," Seals said. "I want to make sure they are taking care of themselves and protecting themselves and going from there."
He said that so far everyone who has been victimized is connected with the church in some way.
"Nobody has any type of malice in their heart against him. They are just saddened by the situation," Seals said. "This should in no way be a reflection against the church or its members. It's a fine church, full of wonderful people that I've had an opportunity to meet in the last few days. It's a wonderful place to go to church and worship."
Seals said there has been no evidence that there was any knowledge of Thompson's activities by anyone at the church.
"A man committed a number of crimes and will have to answer for those. He did this as an individual. He committed the crime himself with nobody's help, nobody else's input. There is no indication of any criminal activity in his life before. They (the church body) were blindsided," he said.
Seals said Thompson has served at the church for five years.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.