INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A Houston minister accused of using money borrowed to build anew church to buy a mink coat and a Mercedes Benz missed hisinitial hearing in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
An attorney for Rev. Wayne Taft Harris Jr. said Harris wasn'ttold of the hearing, which was rescheduled for Aug. 3.
"Just a case of the left hand not knowing what the right handwas doing," public defender Michael Donahoe said. He said Harriswould plead not guilty at next week's hearing.
A July 7 federal indictment charging Harris with wire fraudaccuses him of borrowing $482,000 in August 2005 from Third WorldMissions of Merritt Island, Fla., on behalf of Kingdom BuildersFaith Church to build a church in Indianapolis. Third Worldoperates Bible schools and orphanages in several countries andraises money from the interest on church construction loans.
Two days after the loan money was transferred, Harris bought aMercedes Benz car for about $39,000 in the name of another apparentchurch group, Ever Increasing Kingdom Christian Center, accordingto the indictment. The following month, he filed papers to dissolveKingdom Builders, it said.
In November, Harris paid $105,000 to buy a Christian bookstorein the name of yet another religious group, KingdomComm MinistryResources Inc., the indictment says. It also accuses him of using$500 of the loan to buy a $2,000 mink coat with Versacebuttons.
Harris later sent a fax to the mission group blaming anunidentified staff member for misappropriating the loan funds, theindictment says.
He posted a $25,000 bond and was released after surrendering tofederal authorities in Houston last week.
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