AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - A former Augusta pastor was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for his role in a check-cashing scheme.
Jesse Jefferson Flournoy II, 37, is accused of being part of a scheme that involved cashing more than 80 U.S. Treasury and University Bank checks for a total loss of $450,465.52, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He was a pastor Transformation Empowerment Christian Center while involved in the scheme, according to the attorney's office.
The sentencing follows a lengthy jury trial in July 2013 in which Flournoy was convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., 13 counts of theft of public money and eight counts of aggravated identity theft.
Evidence presented at trial and during sentencing showed that between September 2011 and January 2012, Flournoy played a vital role in a check-cashing scheme that involved cashing checks which were either generated as the result of filing a fraudulent tax return or were stolen from the United States mail before reaching the intended payee, according to the attorney's office.
The attorney's office said Flournoy would obtain the checks from co-conspirators, forge the individual payees' names on each check, create a bogus power of attorney form, in part by forging the individuals' signatures, recruit an accomplice to actually cash the check, and then send money back to his co-conspirators after taking his cut from each check.
The evidence also showed a number of fraudulent tax refunds were electronically deposited directly into bank accounts controlled by Flournoy, according to the attorney's office.
Flournoy also was ordered to pay $450,465.52 in restitution. After Flournoy is released from prison, he will serve three years of supervised release.