3 men claiming to be ‘pastors’ plead guilty to using defunct church to fraudulently obtain loan proceeds: DOJ

HOUSTON – Three men who claimed to be pastors at Jesus Survives Ministries admitted to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced Thursday.

William Dexter Lucas, aka Bill Lucas, 60, and Deborah Jean Lucas, 64, both of Bryan, pleaded guilty, while Brian Corpian, 45, of Houston, entered his plea on Dec. 2.

According to a release, all three have admitted to making false statements and using false documents regarding the church to fraudulently obtain loan proceeds. Jesus Survives Ministries is a defunct church in which all three claimed to be pastors. Bill Lucas claimed to be the lead pastor.

For almost the last decade, prosecutors said there were no church services or pastoral services through Jesus Survives Ministries. Since 2014, the three men made false statements regarding their payroll at the church in submitting car loan applications for purchases of cars on which they had no intention of making payments. Both Bill and Deborah Lucas were able to obtain cars through these false applications.

Within days following the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Bill Lucas applied for multiple Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from numerous banks, according to prosecutors. In them, he reportedly made false statements and provided false documents regarding Jesus Survives Ministries. Bill Lucas falsely claimed that Jesus Survives Ministries had gross revenues of almost a million dollars in 2019. Deborah Lucas and Brian Corpian signed some of the false documents and called bank employees and the Small Business Administration regarding the status of applications.

When Bill Lucas became frustrated with bank employees’ failure to review and fund the loans quickly, prosecutors said he would send accusatory and intimidating text messages and emails; including, “This is war!!!!!” “I curse you, your bank and you[r] whole family,” and “You extremists think I am playing with you. You started a war and I guarantee you that you[’re] not walking away unscathed.”

Bill Lucas also posted a diatribe on the Jesus Survives Ministries website calling one of the banks, “Minions of Satan” and sent a bank employee a photograph of the bank employee’s family, indicating Bill knew the names of the bank employee’s wife and son.

The intended loss amount totals hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to prosecutors. One of the banks approved a PPP loan of $50,000 for Jesus Survives Ministries. Once they received the fraudulent proceeds, Deborah Lucas and Bill Lucas moved the money into another bank account and went on vacation to South Carolina using the fraudulent proceeds.

They will be sentenced on May 11, 2023. All three face up and face up to 30 years in prison and a possible $1 million fine.

They were permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

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