Jeff Parham was reported to the Elgin Police by Harvest Bible Chapel for suspected theft. The original case report was given to The Wondering Eagle. Despite what is said about performing an audit its this blogger’s belief that James MacDonald doesn’t want a full audit given the financial problems at Harvest Bible Chapel.
“There are crimes that, like frost on flowers, in one single night destroy character and reputation.”
Henry Ward Beecher
“Crime has always been a regrettably consistent element of the human experience.”
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.
Ephesians 4:28 NLT
Grain field in Montana
There is news with Jeff Parham the former Chief Information Officer for Harvest Bible Chapel and allegations of embezzlement. Let’s start by looking at the facts of the situation.
Jeff Parham is Reported to Elgin Police for Investigation
Jeff Parham was the Chief Information Officer for Harvest Bible Chapel. I do not know how long he was at Harvest Bible or what his professional career was beforehand. He developed the IT protocols and was in senior leadership. Jeff was also on the Executive Leadership Team. The embezzlement was alleged to have gone on for a year. What this blog has learned is that Jeff Parham was having financial problems. According to sources he was brought to court by Wells Fargo where he was rendered to pay $1953.09 and $350 for attorney fees and $308 for court costs. Now I do not know if this was for a credit card, personal line of credit or another type of loan. He was suspected by church leadership of possibly stealing money. Parham was confronted and let go. The situation was reported to the Elgin Police where you can read the case report in JeffParhamTheft_PoliceReport.
On October 23, 2018 Harvest Bible Chapel sent out the following email to the church. The situation with Jeff Parham was included in the first bullet point.
Last week, we discovered evidence that a non-ministry member of our staff who worked in operations defrauded the church of an amount of money. If the evidence proves true, this would lead to a criminal charge being filed, and a preliminary report was filed today with the Elgin police department. The amount of money in question appears to be less than 1% of our annual budget and the time period appears to be less than a year. This person has never led any public ministry in our church and is on leave pending the completion of this investigation. We are looking to lay leaders and outside expertise who will work with our insurance on maximum recovery of funds. A full report will come to the congregation as soon as the investigation is complete and the facts are fully known.
Why James MacDonald Doesn’t Will Likely Not Allow a Comprehensive Audit Performed
Here is the problem with the Jeff Parham situation. First of all as I analyze the situation one thing that troubles me is that Harvest Bible Chapel did not disclose how much money was stolen from the church. Harvest worked at trying to minimize the situation by saying it was 1% of the budget. In the police report it claims $270,000 was likely stolen. The way that email talks of the problem of stolen money almost indicates that Harvest views money as their own. It doesn’t belong to the church or the members of those who have given it. That is troubling for me. Harvest should have stated how much money was stolen but they did not take that course of action. The church in the email did not say how much money was stolen and yet in the police report its clearly stated. Harvest Bible, I believe, is doing damage control in the congregation. If I were giving money and I learned that the organization I was giving to tried to sweep the situation under the carpet I would be deeply troubled. Another concern is that how could an employee embezzle that amount of money for such a long period of time? The situation shows how lax Harvest Bible is about finances. If that were to happen in other circumstances strict controls that would be in place would trigger internal responses. This situation I believe shows how lax the finances are in the organization.
Here is another issue that I think should be raised. In my opinion I believe that James MacDonald doesn’t want a full and comprehensive audit done. A full audit will raise more questions about the finances of Harvest Bible Chapel. Its my belief that a full and comprehensive audit will reveal that $270,000 is a minor problem compared to other financial issues at Harvest. After all if you read the David Wisen letter over at The Elephant’s Debt it opens up by talking about how Harvest Bible Fellowship was $270,000 in the red. How could that $270,000 be noticed but not $270,000 from the Jeff Parham situation? Plus according to the Wisen letter auditors were not allowed to see a bank statement, check, or any supporting data. Harvest Bible would not do an open and transparent audit. It is this writer’s belief that in regards to the Jeff Parham situation that Harvest Bible will talk about an audit but in the end will not do an audit. Why? Well James MacDonlad doesn’t want the true financial condition of Harvest Bible Chapel to be known. After all consider, that recently I wrote about how James MacDonald squandered $20 million dollars in, “Harvest Bible Chapel Elgin, “General Contractor James MacDonald”, and $20 Million Dollars of Wasted Money in Steel.” If Harvest is going to move to recover the money lost through fraud by Jeff Parham, will Harvest move against James MacDonald to secure the money that was allegedly lost through waste, fraud and abuse? In light of the Harvest Bible Chapel Elgin situation, $20 million sounds like a good place to start if Harvest is going to recover money.
Analysis from an Accountant Desired
This blog is requesting if an accountant can look at this situation with Jeff Parham and offer their feedback. Some of these issues with Harvest Bible Chapel involve financial issues and I am happy to defer or let someone speak to the situation. If you have done audits or finances for a company how does the Jeff Parham situation stand out?