People are drawn to religion like moths are drawn to the light of a flame. Many are drawn to the promises of miraculous healing, absolution, and glory in the afterlife. They follow blindly, often leaving themselves open to predation. That is the case for many who are swindled by televangelists worldwide who promise to deliver glory and redemption, for a small donation.
Televangelist have been preying on the weak for decades and William Todd Coontz is one of them. Coontz had been running a tax fraud scheme since 2010. Coontz has now been indicted on three counts of failure to pay taxes and four counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns. Coontz has been living a life of luxury. He owns a $1.5 million condo that he and his family live in as their parsonage and he owns several luxury vehicles including: three BMWs, two Ferraris, a Maserati and a Land Rover. He also purchased a Regal 2500 boat, made 400 charges at movie theaters, $228,000 in clothing purchases and $140,000 in meals. Coontz illegally claimed all of it as business expenses.
Coontz would regularly travel and speak at ministries all over the United States. The ministries would then pay a speaking fee and travel expenses. Coontz would then conceal the payments by asking the ministries to write the checks out to him personally. He would then claim the travel as a business expense and then use the reimbursements as personal income.
Coontz, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in Charlotte. U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said:
‘This is a classic example of “Do as I say, not as I do.” As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order. Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in “rendering unto Caesar” that which is due.’
Mark Foster, Coontz’s attorney said that Coontz:
‘…unequivocally asserts his innocence and will vigorously defend himself against these charges. Todd Coontz has always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father, and minister. He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS. We expect that after hearing all the evidence, a jury will fully vindicate Mr. Coontz by finding him not guilty of all charges.’
A date for the trial has not been set.
Here is a video of the Coontz indictment:
Featured Image via Getty/Chip Somodevilla