Used Bogus Charity to Steal from International House of Prayer
Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the former mayor of Grandview, Mo., was sentenced in federal court today for a wire fraud scheme in which he used a bogus charity to steal $35,000 in contributions from International House of Prayer, a local nonprofit organization.
Stephen S. Dennis, 51, of Grandview, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge Howard F. Sachs to one year and one day in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Dennis to pay a $5,000 fine; International House of Prayer requested that no restitution should be ordered. Dennis will surrender to begin serving his prison term on Sept. 15, 2014.
On Feb. 11, 2014, Dennis pleaded guilty to the felony offense of wire fraud. Dennis resigned as mayor of Grandview on Jan. 10, 2014.
Dennis admitted that he engaged in a scheme from Dec. 12, 2011, to Nov. 29, 2013, to solicit donations for a corporation called Matters of the Heart. Dennis incorporated Matters of the Heart as a nonprofit corporation under state law, but falsely claimed it was also a federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation. Dennis never applied for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS for Matters of the Heart, even though application instructions were given to him in December 2011 by an attorney from whom he sought legal advice.
Dennis received two checks totaling $35,000 from International House of Prayer Forerunner Christian Fellowship, a nonprofit organization in Grandview, in 2012. After obtaining the $35,000, Dennis used these funds for his own personal benefit, including his immediate family’s living expenses, rather than for any charitable purpose.
Matters of the Heart, which is now dissolved, was purportedly organized “to be a local community outreach to the poor and disadvantaged,” according to its articles of incorporation, and to “administer funds and property of any kind for … religious, charitable, cultural, scientific, literary and education purposes.”
In the organization’s articles of incorporation, Dennis listed himself as incorporator, registered agent, and one of the three directors of the board. He listed two persons, identified as “B.S.” and “J.M.” as the other two directors. B.S. and J.M. had no knowledge that they were listed as directors, and at no time gave Dennis permission or authority to claim them as such. B.S. and J.M. have never served as directors on the Matters of the Heart board of directors.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roseann A. Ketchmark. It was investigated by the FBI.
Public Corruption Hotline
The FBI has established a toll-free public corruption hotline, 1-855-KCPCTIP, and e-mail KCPCTIP@ic.fbi.gov. Details regarding the various types of public corruption investigated by the FBI can be found online: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/corruption