Four men charged with using church as front for scam
LOS ANGELES(AP) - Four men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly bilking $11 million from donors by creating several phony churches in Orange County whose only goal was to raise money.
The indictment was unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court here and charged the men with 48 counts of mail fraud, money laundering and other federal violations. Named in the indictment are: Timothy Lyons, Gabriel Sanchez, Roger Lane and Steven de la Torre.
Only Lane and de la Torre were in custody, but Sanchez is expected to surrender to FBI agents Friday, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellyn Lindsay. Lyons was still being sought.
Prosecutors said the scam began in 1993 when Sanchez started the First Church of Life in Costa Mesa. The indictment said Sanchez began using the facility the following year to register numerous phony charities that did not have tax-exempt status.