GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grandville church that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme says it can’t give the money back to victims because it has already been given to charities.
Resurrection Life Church received $300,000 in donations from David McQueen, who swindled $46 million from about 800 investors in a Ponzi scheme.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been trying to recoup some of that $46 million to give back to victims of the scheme. When it asked Resurrection Life Church to give back the $300,000, the church replied in a letter that it had decided to “respectfully decline to do so.” It said the church didn’t know where the money had come from at the time it was received and was not “complicit” with McQueen.
>>Inside woodtv.com: The full letter (pdf)
In a Wednesday statement posted on its Facebook page, Resurrection Life Church provided further details, saying it no longer had the money it received from McQueen between 2005 and 2009.
“The money was dispersed to various charitable causes many years ago according to the requirements of the law. Because so much time has passed since the donations were made, it is impossible to find those dollars now. The orphanages, missionaries, even local businesses who actually received portions of that money have all long since put it to good use, and so have the businesses where they spent it and so on,” the statement from Pastor Duane Vander Klok reads in part.
The statement goes on to say that if the church had been aware of where the money came from when it was donated or before it was “dispersed to charitable causes, we would have gladly returned (it) to investors.”
The statement says trying to redirect donations to the victims of the Ponzi scheme would “create an ethical and potentially legal dilemma” because the church doesn’t have $300,000 and recent donations were not meant to go to reparations.
However, the church is looking into other options, it said.
“We are in the process of establishing a special fund account to benefit the investors who lost their funds. Our church community can donate to the account and all the monies received into that fund will be put towards the restoration of the investor’s loss. An independent attorney will oversee the escrow fund and will coordinate with the US Attorney for eventual distribution of all funds received to the victims,” the statement reads.
The statement said more details on how to donate to the account will be released once they are finalized.
McQueen, of Byron Center, is serving a 30-year prison sentence for the Ponzi scheme.
The full statement from Resurrection Life Church on its Facebook page.
**Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the U.S. Attorney’s Office as the Attorney General’s Office. The error has been corrected.