Pastors of defunct church plead guilty to car loan and COVID-19 fraud
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – Three locals associated with Jesus Survives Ministries have admitted to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
William Dexter Lucas aka Bill Lucas, 60, and Deborah Jean Lucas, 64, both of Bryan, pleaded guilty today while Brian Corpian, 45, Houston, entered his plea Dec. 2.
All three have admitted to making false statements and using false documents regarding the church to fraudulently obtain loan proceeds. Jesus Survives Ministries is a defunct church in which all three claimed to be pastors. Bill Lucas claimed to be lead pastor.
For almost the last decade there were no church services or pastoral services through Jesus Survives Ministries. Since 2014, the three made false statements regarding their payroll at the church in submitting car loan applications for purchases of cars on which they had no intent of making payments. Both Bill and Deborah Lucas were able to obtain cars through these false applications.
Within days following the enactment of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Bill Lucas applied for multiple Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from numerous banks. In them, he made false statements and provided false documents regarding Jesus Survives Ministries. Bill Lucas falsely claimed that Jesus Survives Ministries had gross revenues of almost a million dollars in 2019. Deborah Lucas and Brian Corpian signed some of the false documents and called bank employees and the Small Business Administration regarding the status of applications.
When Bill Lucas became frustrated with bank employees’ failure to review and fund the loans quickly, he would send accusatory and intimidating text messages and emails; including, “This is war!!!!!” “I curse you, your bank and you[r] whole family,” and “You extremists think I am playing with you. You started a war and I guarantee you that you[‘re] not walking away unscathed.” Bill Lucas also posted a diatribe on the Jesus Survives Ministries website calling one of the banks, “Minions of Satan” and sent a bank employee a photograph of the bank employee’s family, indicating Bill knew the names of the bank employee’s wife and son.
The intended loss amount totals hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of the banks appoved a PPP loan of $50,000 for Jesus Survives Ministries. Once they received the fraudulent proceeds, Deborah Lucas and Bill Lucas moved the money into another bank account and went on vacation to South Carolina using fraud proceeds.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted March 27, 2020, to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act included the PPP and EIDL programs for either forgivable loans or low-interest financing for small businesses.
U.S. District Judge Charles Eskridge will impose sentencing May 11, 2023. At that time, all three face up and face up to 30 years in prison and a possible $1 million fine.
They were permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
Homeland Security Investigations, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Small Business Administration and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahra Jivani Fenelon, Kate Suh and Kristine Rollinson are prosecuting the case.
Updated December 8, 2022