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Press Release

Gretna Preacher Pleads Guilty to Stealing Over $320,000 from Church

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced today that JOSEPH R. ALEXANDER, age 60 of Gretna, Louisiana pleaded guilty on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 to one count of a sixteen count indictment returned December 7, 2017.  The government agreed to dismiss the remaining fifteen counts at sentencing, which was set for April 3, 2019 before Judge Sarah S. Vance.

According to the documents filed in open court, ALEXANDER was the minister at a Church of Christ congregation in Gretna, Louisiana.  Starting in 2006 and continuing until December 2013, ALEXANDER stole at least $321,491 from the church in three different schemes.  The first involved his writing church checks to himself to pay for personal expenses, but creating false entries in church ledgers which indicated the checks were being written to legitimate church vendors.  The second method involved his opening an online bank account without church permission and paying personal expenses from the online account.  Finally, he forged a church elder’s signature on checks which required two signatures.  He also used these funds for personal expenses. 

If convicted, ALEXANDER faces a maximum term of imprisonment of thirty (30) years, a fine of one million dollars and five (5) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, as well as restitution to the Church.

U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the United States Postal Inspection Service in investigating the matter. The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Carter K.D. Guice Jr.


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Updated December 14, 2018

Financial Fraud