Texas pastor sentenced to 35 years in prison for robbing churches

(NewsNation) — A Texas pastor was sentenced to 35 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of stealing more than $800,000 from three churches.

Whitney Foster, 56, pastor of the nondenominational True Foundation Church in Dallas, was sentenced after being found guilty of theft of property involving three local churches, Dallas County prosecutors said.

Foster was the pastor of a small congregation that had no physical place to meet. Foster was accused of stealing real estate from three local churches after prosecutors said he filed fraudulent property deeds, listing a fake pastor or other church officials for the congregations he had been convicted of theft of property, officials said.

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On the deed documents, he listed his church as the beneficiary in his own name. The value of the three properties is more than $800,000, prosecutors said.

First Christian Church of Lancaster, Texas, Canada Drive Christian Church and Nineveh Church were listed as the three churches whose property was stolen, prosecutors said. Two of the three churches still bear Foster’s name.

Prosecutors said Foster’s congregation still met at one of the properties and the third property remained plagued with legal complications due to the pastor’s actions.

“Theft of real property is an incredibly serious and damaging crime,” Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement Monday. “It’s worse than stealing someone’s vehicle or other property. When someone steals property, we must hold them accountable because they are hurting people.

The jury was presented with evidence of seven additional fraudulent acts in addition to the three for which Foster was convicted. Foster had previously been convicted of identity theft and arson, prosecutors said.

“Homeownership is the foundation of our society – it provides security, a home, a place to love and welcome each other,” said Dallas County District Attorney Phillip Clark. “It also represents a very active part of our economy, both in terms of buying, selling and renting properties, as well as in terms of property taxes that support everything our government does for the citizens of the Dallas County.”

In 2021, the pastor of the church in Lancaster, Texas, learned that the congregation no longer owned the building after it was deeded to someone else for $10, a Dallas television station reported .

The property, valued at $700,000 at the time, was deeded to someone else after a person claiming to be the president of the church deeded the building to a non-member of the church for $10.

At the time, Foster told the TV station he thought the church building was vacant.

“You can acquire property for $10 from nonprofits,” Foster told the local news station. “The church is the property of the community. … Whitney didn’t buy it. Our church understood this. I was about to open a church there.

Clark said the region has seen an increase in deed fraud cases nationwide in recent years.

“Cases of fraud by deed are not simple disputes; they are lies and fraud – they are theft – and they are deeply damaging. I am very grateful that the jury saw the truth in this case and held the accused accountable.