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Pastor Accused

Palm Beach, FL: (Mar-02-08) A lawsuit was brought against Rev. Keith Thomas, a Baptist minister from Mobile, AL, alleging that he fraudulently bilked Lucinda Bennett, a mentally ill woman, out of $1.8 million during his previous tenure at a Florida church. The incident took place at the First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, where the Rev. Keith Thomas served as senior pastor before becoming pastor of Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. Church sources said that Thomas, who came to Mobile in August 2003, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall and had surgery in December 2003. Thomas continues to undergo chemotherapy and has battled back.

The suit accused Thomas of taking advantage of Bennett's mental health problems to get her to sign away $1.8 million she inherited from her grandmother in February of 2000. Most of that moeny went to First Baptist Church. He was also accused of receiving $60,000 for himself, his wife and his four children. Bennett alleged that Thomas and other church officials were well aware of her mental condition. She told many in the church that she had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in 1999. Bennett became destitute as a result of losing her money, and on asking the pastor for her money back, he said that he had none.

As part of a settlement reached, church spokespersons stated that the parties had resolved the dispute with a confidential agreement. [THE PRESS REGISTER: SUIT SETTLED AGAINST PASTOR]

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Last updated on Mar-4-08

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