Ind. Faith Charity Leader’s Suicide Sidelines Fraud Inquiry

The death last year of an Indiana man suspected of using a nonprofit religious organization to defraud other faith groups and investors appears to have short-circuited a criminal investigation of the case, writes The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

Steven E. Clapp, the leader of Christian Community, killed himself in May 2012. The Fort Wayne-based organization provided research and handled finances for other religious charities and operated a loan program that promised investors 10-percent returns. According to The Journal Gazette, Mr. Clapp told clients in early 2012 that hundreds of thousands of dollars Christian Community handled for them was gone and that the loan program had lost $500,000.

Terry Tolliver, deputy director of consumer protection in the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, said his office had been assisting local authorities in preparing a case against Mr. Clapp, who served 56 months in prison after a 1988 conviction for bank fraud. “I would assume the criminal investigation stopped when he died,” Mr. Tolliver said. Michael McAlexander, an Allen County, Ind., prosecutor, confirmed that a probe had been underway but ended with Mr. Clapp’s death.

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