Liberia: Pastor Jailed for Duping Church Member Through Land Sale
Monrovia – A clergyman of the United Christian Fellowship Church, Pastor Shadrick T. Biah, has been imprisoned at the Monrovia Central Prison for dubbing a church member under the pretense of selling five lots of land.
Report by Augustine T. Tweh, [email protected]
The United Christian Fellowship Church is located in Smyth Road Community, Old Road, Montserrado County.
Pastor Biah was incarcerated by Monrovia City Court Judge J. Kennedy Peabody for taking the amount of USD$7,500 from church member identified as Elizabeth Toweh under the pretense of selling five lots of land that he claims belongs to him.
According to the Writ of Arrest, the clergyman in August of 2015 influenced the victim (Elizabeth Toweh) out of deception, received the said amount and failed to make available the land.
The Writ further states that the alleged act of defendant (Biah) is being unlawful, criminal and intentional in violation of section 15.51 of the Revised Penal Law of Liberia, thereby charging with the ‘crime of Theft of Property by Deception’.
Section 15.51 of the revised Penal Law of Liberia states: “A person is guilty of theft if he knowingly takes, misappropriates, converts or exercises unauthorized control over, or makes an unauthorized transfer of an interest in, or the property of another with the purpose of depriving the owner. Knowingly obtains the property of another by deception or by threat with the purpose of depriving the owner”.
The Writ: “During the period of August 2015, the within named defendant induced and influenced private prosecutor receiving the from her the total amountUSD$7,500 under the pretext of selling five (5) lots of land to her, having received the said amount, defendant out of deception failed to make the lots of land available and also failed to return the money”
“Instead, defendant criminally converted the money to his personal use and benefit and placed himself into hiding with the intent to deprive the private prosecutor of the said amount. The alleged act of the defendant being unlawful, criminal and intentional is in violation of Section 15.51 of the Revised Penal law of Liberia”.
In an interview with FrontPageAfrica, Madam Toweh said she has known Pastor Biah after her husband frustrated her, leaving her with seven children without hope of living.
“This pastor preached to me when I was frustrated and down hearted, when my husband frustrated me with my seven children, so I was very down hearted at the time I met this pastor. And he took me to his church, the United Christian Fellowship Church in the Old Road Community, he is one of the Assistant pastors in the church,” she said.
She recalled that the clergyman encouraged her to take money from some of her family members under the pretense of selling a property to her.
“I never credited this money from people. The one lot money was my own money I gave to him to settle but the other four lots money is for people who came to me to help them buy land, and made all the receipt in my name.
“I am so frustrated now, I don’t have place to live, whole day I’m on Carey Street selling cold water, if I sell my I take the money and use it on the court on Writ of Arrest, writ of summon,” she said.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, April 5, 2018, two clergymen of the Mission For Today’s Church, located in the Borough of New Kru Town were found guilty of the crime, Theft of Property and Misapplication of Entrusted Property.
Bishop Manaseh Conto and Pastor Steve Kettor were both declared guilty of the crime after Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Blamo Dixon handed down the verdict.
Both Conto and Kettor were indicted on May 26, 2016 by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on charges of theft of property and misapplication of entrusted property based on a complaint filed by a Korean businessman Hungchi Choi, the General Manager of the Korean trading Company.
This Asian businessman is involved in the sales of used cars and spare parts imported from Korea.
The indictment stated that Kettor, who was recommended by Bishop Conto to the company to serve as general manager, while in the employ of the company was entrusted with 31 vehicles valued at USD$155,930.00 but Kettor allegedly sold the vehicles when his boss Choi had fled the country for Korea due to the Ebola crisis in July 2014.
As part of the ruling, Judge Blamo Dixon ordered Bishop Conto to restitute the amount of USD$9,500 with fined of USD$100; while Pastor Kettor was also ordered to restitute the amount of USD$30,123.10 with fined of USD$200.
The court also withheld the sentence of imprisonment and suspended probation for the two guilty clergymen, in keeping with the relevant provisions of the sentencing guidelines booklet of the Judiciary.