DENVER - A grand jury has indicted a pastor accused of embezzling money from an Episcopal church in Colorado Springs before breaking from it and joining another congregation.Here's the Bishop of Colorado last summer in Canterbury explaining that he's all about reconciliation, not negotiation:
Police said a 20-count indictment of theft charges against the Rev. Donald Armstrong was handed down Wednesday. Armstrong is free on bail.
Details from the indictment weren't immediately available Friday.
The Pueblo County District Attorney's office took charge of the investigation because former El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome recused himself. Newsome once belonged to Armstrong's parish.
Authorities have been investigating Armstrong on allegations that he misappropriated $392,000 from the Grace Episcopal Church and St. Stephen's Parish. He has denied wrongdoing.
Armstrong headed the congregation before he and his followers broke away in 2007 to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North American.
CANA said in a written statement that the organization is praying for Armstrong, his family and his congregation.
"It is with great disappointment that I learned about the indictment of Rev. Armstrong," said Martyn Minns, a CANA missionary bishop. "While I know this is a painful time for both he and his wife, I also recognize that this is a major step in Rev. Armstrong's journey to publicly prove his innocence."
Colorado Springs police took financial documents and computers from Armstrong's former church in November. Detectives said in an affidavit that Armstrong used money from a church trust fund to pay for college tuition for two of his children.
After the search at the church in November, Armstrong's attorney Dennis Hartley said investigators would find that there was no case against his client and that an Internal Revenue Service investigation had discovered no wrongdoing.
Armstrong was defrocked in 2007 after the split with the church and an investigation by an ecclesiastic court of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. The diocese said Armstrong violated his ordination vows, and it accused him of financial misconduct.
Friday, May 22, 2009