Evangelical Church Leaders In California Arrested On Human Trafficking Charges
Three leaders of a Philippines-based evangelical church were arrested in California this week on human trafficking charges, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, for allegedly perpetrating an immigration fraud scheme and using the victims to raise money for the church’s leader.
The trio of church officials, working for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, were arrested after authorities raided the church’s Van Nuys compound, as well as several other locations in the Los Angeles area.
A criminal complaint filed on Monday alleges that the administrators “coerced some members into sham marriages to keep them in the United States to raise money for the church’s expensive projects and to fund the ‘lavish lifestyle’ of its leader,” televangelist Apollo Quiboloy.
The workers “were instructed to go to malls, college campuses, restaurants, and department stores throughout the U.S. to solicit donations for a church non-profit called the Children’s Joy Foundation USA,” the U.S. Justice Department said.
Potential donors were told that their contributions would benefit Filipino children living in poverty, but authorities contend that in reality, the money went to fund the church’s expensive projects.
KOJC workers received little or no compensation for their long hours soliciting donations for the church, according to the complaint, and some told federal investigators that they lived in squalid conditions at the church’s compounds. They also claimed to have often slept in parked cars while working their fundraising campaigns.
The church was founded by Quiboloy in 1985, the Daily News reported, and its members refer to the televangelist as “The Appointed Son of God.”