A New York minister has been indicted for raiding an HIV/AIDS charity fund to pay for his own vacation and luxury lifestyle.
Rev. Reginald Williams is the leader of the Queens-based Charity Baptist Church of Christ, which describes Williams as being deeply committed to "fiscal integrity" on the church's website.
Williams was chairman of the board for the Addicts Rehabilitation Center (ARC) Foundation Inc. as well as president and CEO of ARC Fund. He is accused of funneling more than $631,000 intended for the charity into lavish meals and trips to the Carribean. The president of ARC Foundation, Naomi Barrera, and the president of a consulting group, Bennie Hadnott, were accused as well.
The purpose of the non-profit taxpayer-funded organizations is to help provide housing and social services to people with substance and alcohol use disorders, HIV/AIDS, and others.
"These defendants should have safeguarded the finances of these taxpayer-funded nonprofits," DOI Commissioner, Margeret Garnett said in a statement, "instead, they diverted public funds from their intended mission to provide housing and social services to individuals overcoming alcohol and substance abuse and those living with HIV/AIDS".
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said that Williams along with Barrera and Hadnott, "shamelessly stole from publicly funded organizations dedicated to helping vulnerable New Yorkers." Vance also says that Williams and his accomplices failed to meet contractual obligations and furloughed employees without pay, "[draining] the coffers for their personal gain."
Williams' lawyer, Paul Martin, alleges that he raised $14 million for the ARC Foundation, and was entitled to use the funds as he accepted no salary for his work.
"The board made the decision to pay my client, to pay him for the years in which he got no salary," the lawyer said.
Williams has served as pastor of Charity Baptist Church of Christ in the Bronx for more than 25 years, according to its website.