Parishioners Claim Ex-Pastor Betrayed Their Trust

Victims Of Barry Minkow Talk To 10News I-Team

Some local victims of Barry Minkow told the 10News I-Team how the former pastor's story of redemption won their admiration and trust.

  • Link:Minkow-Marsch Case Documents
  • "His sermons were compelling, very interesting," said a female parishioner who did not want to be identified.

    The I-Team spoke to several parishioners of the Mira Mesa-based Community Bible Church, and one woman said Minkow ministered to her family before asking her for money.

    "How much money are we talking here?" asked I-Team reporter Mitch Blacher.

    "Almost $300,000," replied the woman.

    She said she was told the money would be used to edit a movie about Minkow's "inspiring" life story.

    "I get the impression this isn't about money," said Blacher.

    "I felt betrayed because I trusted him," she said.

    The woman, and many of Minkow's other believers, trusted him until the news broke of his involvement in an extortion scheme to drive down the stock of major U.S. home builder Lennar Corp.

    Since then, the I-Team learned Minkow has weaved his web of deceit in and around the church for years.

    "I know there are others," said the woman.

    So while the church's website no longer features Minkow, he still casts a large shadow on the parish.

    "I really believe he changed. I knew his past, and I thought he had really changed," said the woman.

    The I-Team began tracking all things linked to Minkow, uncovering a web of business deals across the country.

    Sources told the I-Team a certain gas station in Escondido is where Minkow would come to pick up cash. The I-Team learned the gas station, like other interests Minkow has access to, are part of his cash grab that's been going on for some time. But when Minkow takes, it means someone is left holding the bag.

    "I had been conned," said Eric Dranfield.

    Dranfield said he delivered gas on credit to Minkow's station. Others lost money on this deal, but only Dranfield -- who lost $47,000 -- was willing to talk to the I-Team.

    "He was using church funds for his own benefit to pay for fuel," said Dranfield.

    Like many before him, Dranfield was fooled by Minkow's charm.

    "Fascinated with his intelligence and depth of knowledge of everything we discussed," said Dranfield, who also added he believes Minkow is a con man.

    Minkow is currently living in Crosslands, Tenn., and awaits his upcoming sentencing in a Miami courtroom for securities fraud.

    The I-Team emailed and called the church's elders, but they have not responded.

    Sources within the church told the I-team Minkow has hurt others and the FBI has interviewed some parishioners.

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