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posted: 9/24/2012 12:59 PM

Judge increases bail for Naperville-area pastor

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  • Howard Richmond

      Howard Richmond

 
 

A pastor who lives in Naperville and is awaiting trial for alleged financial crimes must raise $35,000 to get out of jail.

Howard Richmond was taken into custody Monday after a DuPage County judge increased his bail by a total of $350,000 because of new charges accusing Richmond of detaining a witness in one of the pending cases.

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"The problem is he keeps getting cases," Judge Blanche Hill Fawell said during Monday's hearing. "His offenses keep coming."

Richmond already was facing charges he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from three men, including a member of his congregation at Life Reach Ministries Worldwide in Aurora, when he was accused in June of paying $114,000 in church rent with a bad check.

Now prosecutors contend Richmond met with a witness at a Chicago park just days after being charged in connection with the bounced check. Authorities say Richmond tried to convince the witness to sign papers recanting statements she made related to one of his cases.

The witness, who at the time was a member of Richmond's church, later claimed Richmond didn't let her leave the park. The woman was driven to the location by another church member and her purse and cellphone were left in the van.

In his original case, Richmond was accused in May 2010 of conning three men out of more than $470,000 for the supposed purchase of his church's former storefront location in an Aurora shopping plaza. Among the victims was a then-60-year-old doctor and church member who alone put in $400,000, authorities have said.

Richmond has pleaded not guilty.

Also charged was a former Naperville bank employee accused of taking bribes from Richmond to create documents making it look as if his church account had $17 million. The banker, Sallie Berry of Naperville, eventually pleaded guilty to commercial bribery and has agreed to testify against Richmond at his trial.

Richmond's bail was increased in June after he was arrested on charges of deceptive practices and conspiracy to commit deceptive practices. Authorities have alleged Richmond convinced an acquaintance to write a $114,000 check to the landlord of his church's former location.

So far, Richmond has been able to raise the 10 percent of his bail amounts necessary to be released from jail.

But on Monday, Fawell increased the bail in Richmond's original case from $350,000 to $450,000. The judge also doubled Richmond's bail in the second case from $250,000 to $500,000.

As a result, Richmond would need to post an additional $35,000 to be released from jail, according to defense attorney Mike McMahon.

When asked if his client had the extra money, McMahon said, "I don't know."

If he is released from jail, Richmond has been ordered by Fawell to have no contact with any witnesses.

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