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Compton pastor suspected of embezzling more than $800,000 from church

August 19, 2009 |  3:08 pm

A Baptist minister was arrested this morning on charges of stealing more than $800,000 from the church he leads in Compton, officials said.

The Rev. E. Joshua Sims, pastor of Double Rock Baptist Church in Compton, was taken into custody this morning at his home in Corona, said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The arrest concludes a months-long investigation by sheriff's deputies, Whitmore said.

Between March 2000 and September 2008, investigators believe, Sims diverted church funds into a personal account, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. When church members began questioning his finances Sims allegedly threatened them during his sermons, she said.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Compton on charges of grand theft by embezzlement, money laundering and witness intimidation, Robison said. Prosecutors will request that bail be set at $1.2 million, she said.

Church officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Compton Bulletin reported last year that Sims stunned members of his congregation when he revealed at a meeting in September that he took thousands of dollars a month in “household allowances” without first obtaining the approval of the church’s board. Sims was also said to have told the meeting that more than $1 million was missing from church coffers.

According to the church website, Sims is a California native who was raised in Compton and grew up attending Double Rock Baptist. Before he was installed as pastor in 1998 he served on the ushers board, sang in the choir, taught Bible studies and was cast as the scarecrow in a church production of “The Wiz, Gospel Style.” Sims was ordained in 1983 and has preached at several other churches in Los Angeles County and elsewhere in the country, the site says.

-- Alexandra Zavis