September 26, 2014
Files Restraining Order against Congregant Family and Trustees, Citing Misappropriation and Misuse of Funds
JAMAICA ESTATES, NY – Attorney Tanya Hobson-Williams of Hobson-Williams, P.C. has announced that she has successfully petitioned to have a guardian appointed for a 92-year-old pastor (Reverend Thomas Burns of the Burns Memorial Church of God in Christ in Hollis) on behalf of her client, who is the pastor’s daughter. Ms. Hobson-Williams also filed an Order to Show Cause with a Temporary Restraining Order to keep the church trustees and one of the congregant families away from Reverend Burns. The trustees and congregant families allegedly stole money from the pastor and sold off one of the church’s assets without accounting for the proceeds.
In 2012, Reverend Burns invited a group of parishioners to help him count $4 million in cash he kept hidden in his home and to help bring the money to a safe deposit box. For their assistance, the Pastor paid them $1,000 each. In addition to the money, Reverend Burns – who also worked as a real estate broker – owned eight properties that were subsequently transferred to the church.
In the guardianship petition, Esther Pullings, the pastor’s daughter and only child, alleged that one of the church’s parishioners, Fannie Smith, was seen leaving Reverend Burns’ home with a suitcase full of money that was retrieved from Ms. Smith and deposited into a guardianship account by his daughter. Ms. Pullings has also claimed that Ms. Smith, her husband Waymond Smith and her son Samuel Smith are exerting their control over the church and its finances. Both the Smith family and the trustees allegedly sold off one of the properties owned by the church but could not account for the monies received from the sale, prompting a separate lawsuit filed by three other congregants.
A hearing will be held on September 30, 2014 to address the restraining order against the Smiths.
“We must see to it that the Smith family and the trustees of the church do not come into physical or verbal contact with Reverend Burns,” Ms. Hobson-Williams said. “These people are alleged to have taken advantage of Reverend Burn’s giving nature and his lack of mental cognition. They are alleged to have usurped control of the church and are using their ill-gotten leadership positions in the church for their own personal gain. If proven, this must be stopped.”
For more information, call 1 (866) 825-1529 or visit www.thobsonwilliamslaw.com.