EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

September 23, 2012

Helping himself

Tragedy meant big money for NY minister


Charities generally must use donations for the purpose stated when the money is raised. And charity operators must avoid using money to help themselves or causes that are not related to their mission.

Keyes, through his lawyer, said the payments were proper and the rent reasonable.

SUBHEAD: Accountants complain

Some of the most serious complaints about Keyes’ financial practices come from his former accountants.

One, Bruce Kowal, filed complaints in 2008 with New York state officials accusing Keyes of misusing Urban Life Ministries money meant to help Hurricane Katrina victims. “Not only was this (nonprofit) plundered to fund the operating deficits of the church, the amounts were spent on personal items of the pastor’s family, and thus were items of taxable income,” Kowal wrote.

He attached bank records to the complaint that he said showed Urban Life Ministries paid some of Keyes’ personal expenses, including his American Express bills, a monthly lease on a car his sons used while attending a private college in Florida, and payments toward the personal loan Keyes owed on the Pennsylvania property.

Kowal’s complaint, obtained by the AP, said Glad Tidings church money was used to pay more than $73,000 in Keyes’ credit card bills, without the minister ever providing proof that they were legitimate church expenses.

The New York attorney general’s office declined to comment on what happened to Kowal’s complaint.

Keyes referred questions to his lawyer, Polovetsky, who said all of the charity’s expenditures were legitimate. She said a newly hired accountant had reviewed the transactions and that “any required taxes were paid.”

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