Mayor of Baker defends pastor accused of fraud
BAKER- Pastor Ricky Sinclair runs Miracle Place Church in Baker and is the focus of an Inspector General's report about fraud.
The report has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office, who will decide if they want to seek an indictment. The I.G. accuses Sinclair of stealing $750,000 from the feds and the state.
The report thoroughly details how Sinclair allegedly tricked the government out of themoney, including fake companies, fake bills and phony signatures.
"When people are blatantly stealing from government agencies, that's taxpayer money we're talking about," said I.G. Stephen Street.
Street says the 14-page report clearly shows illegal efforts at getting money from the feds and the state for efforts during Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, as well as for running the "All the Way House" drug treatment center and training for an abortion prevention program.
Investigators were also told people in the treatment center were forced to build in order to stay in the program. For some, that meant staying out of jail.
But the mayor of Baker, who actually cut down the amount of one of Sinclair's claims, says the I.G.'s claims are hard to believe.
Harold Rideau said, "I know his heart is in the right place wanting to help people, certainly hope that these allegations are not true."
Sinclair tells News 2, in a statement, the report is not true. He says, "Miracle Place and Ricky Sinclair have been serving the people of this area for over 20 years, and we will continue to serve them to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ."
Rideau hopes so.
He said, "If there was some wrongdoing here, then it certainly needs to come out, but I know that Miracle Place Church has been a blessing to the City of Baker."
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