Crime: California church leaders charged with forced labor of homeless, US attorney says - PressFrom - US
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CrimeCalifornia church leaders charged with forced labor of homeless, US attorney says

08:15  11 september  2019
08:15  11 september  2019 Source:   cnn.com

Church held homeless people hostage, forced them to beg, feds say

Church held homeless people hostage, forced them to beg, feds say A dozen leaders of a California-based church lured homeless people into group homes and forced them to panhandle, according to an indictment.

In recent years the church 's influence has spread to the US , particularly in parts of California with large Hispanic populations. In a statement released on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Mr García, a Mexican national, and the three women allegedly committed 26 felonies in

While Zhang isn’t charged with espionage, prosecutors have filed Her former public defenders are on standby, sitting in the gallery behind her, in case she changes her mind about acting as her own attorney . Trending in US . Church leaders charged with using homeless people as forced labor .

A dozen leaders of a California-based ministry have been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of forced labor of mostly homeless people, a US attorney said.

California church leaders charged with forced labor of homeless, US attorney says© CNN

Imperial Valley Ministries leaders recruited people by promising food and shelter, and instead forced them to beg for money for nine hours a day, six days a week and to give up their welfare benefits "for the financial benefit of the church leaders," prosecutors said in a news release Tuesday that announced the indictment had been unsealed.

The ministry leaders will face charges of conspiracy, forced labor, document servitude and benefits fraud, US Attorney Robert Brewer said.

People who leave donations at homeless camps face charges, police say

People who leave donations at homeless camps face charges, police say Dozens of people are living in the woods outside Sanford, but police say they will charge those who leave supplies to help them. According to Sanford police, anyone caught leaving clothes or donations at homeless camp sites will be charged with littering. Instead, officers suggest donating to a homeless charity. There is no homeless shelter in Sanford, but the town has recently increased efforts to curb homelessness including offering medical care, garbage disposal and portable toilets. Littering is a civil offense and subject to a fine of $500 to $1,000 depending on the amount deposited.

California city confiscates toilets from homeless residents – forcing them to use buckets. Scott Dreher, an attorney to the organizers who was present at the event, described the A homeless man at the feeding event, Berl Crist, said El Cajon, by contrast, “would rather take a hands-off inactive

A third former Fullerton, California , police officer was charged Thursday in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man, the district attorney said . Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Story highlights. Joseph Wolfe, 37, was charged with involuntary manslaughter of a homeless man.

The ministry operates nondenominational churches and group homes in the United States and Mexico.

CNN reached out to Imperial Valley Ministries and officials declined to comment, saying they were on their way to court.

The defendants were arrested in El Centro and San Diego and in Brownsville, Texas. Arraignments began Tuesday.

'Appalling abuse of power'

"The indictment alleges an appalling abuse of power by church officials who preyed on vulnerable homeless people with promises of a warm bed and meals," Brewer said. "These victims were held captive, stripped of their humble financial means, their identification, their freedom and their dignity."

The indictment alleges church leaders kept victims inside group homes with deadbolt locks only they had keys to and confiscated IDs such as driver's licenses, immigration papers and passports to prevent victims from escaping.

Man charged with vandalizing Mennonite Church in Cumberland County

Man charged with vandalizing Mennonite Church in Cumberland County A Carlisle man is accused of vandalizing a church after police say they caught him gluing posters to the church’s walls. Police were called to the Reform Mennonite Church on N Middlesex Road on Friday, September 6. There, they say they found Robert Bear, 90, using glue to post personal manifestos on the exterior church walls. Bear had previously been banned from the property and was not supposed to be there, let alone defacing the historic property. Bear faces charges of institutional vandalism, defiant trespass, desecration of venerated objects and disorderly conduct. ——— ©2019 WPMT-TV, Harrisburg Visit WPMT-TV, Harrisburg at www.fox43.

Homelessness in the United States exists in every state. Each state has different laws and other conditions which influence the number of homeless persons and what services are available to their

“ We are appalled to learn of the allegations published by the Associated Press regarding foreign members of our church being ‘enslaved,'” the statement read. Another previous AP report outlined how congregants were ordered by sect leaders to lie to authorities investigating allegations of abuse.

One victim was a 17-year-old girl who escaped by breaking out of a window, Brewer said. She went to the police, he said.

"Dozens of victims have alleged the same thing -- once they were inside the group homes, the IVM had become a venture designed to keep as many as people as possible for as long as possible," Assistant US District Attorney Chris Tenorio said at a press conference Tuesday.

Isolated and closely watched

Victims said they were isolated and closely watched, Tenorio said. They were threatened with punishment for violating house rules, and they weren't allowed to go anywhere unattended, he said.

They were told their children would be taken away from them if they left, Brewer said.

Victims were made to turn over all their belongings, Tenorio said, and the accused church leaders took victims' benefits, such as Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards that allowed the holder to buy food. They then gave them to people not eligible for the benefits, he said.

Victims were refused basic and necessary medical attention, said Scott Brunner, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego field office. That included a diabetic who was refused insulin and even the food needed to control blood sugar levels, said Brewer.

Identifying labor trafficking victims is particularly challenging, Brunner said, because the victims often are isolated and work behind the scenes doing legal work, on farms, in homes, in restaurants and factories.

I would like this case to send a message to the victims," said Brewer. "That message being: We want to help you. You have to report these types of crime to law enforcement, so that we can help you."

Mormon leader reaffirms church's opposition to gay marriage.
PROVO, Utah (AP) — The leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed the religion's opposition to gay marriage Tuesday, while explaining that leaders lifted a short-lived ban on baptisms for children of gay parents because they felt the "heartache" it caused. Church president Russell M. Nelson's remarks in a speech to students at the church-owned Brigham Young University were the most detailed explanation to date of the faith's surprising move in April to repeal 2015 policies that banned the baptisms and labeled people in same-sex marriages as sinners eligible for expulsion.

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