Reverend Charged With Stealing From AIDS Patients To Buy Expensive Clothes For Himself

Luke Rosiak | Investigative Reporter

A Hartford, Connecticut reverend who ran a nonprofit that got government funding for subsidized housing allegedly stole from funds intended for AIDS patients, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Warburton Church’s former pastor, Rev. Steven F. Harvin, was also president of Zezzo House, a housing project that receives federal funding for Section 8 subsidized housing and under the government’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program.

He was arrested Tuesday and charged with wire fraud and theft from programs receiving federal funds.

In 2016 Harvin terminated the nonprofit’s accountant, opened up a business bank account of which he was the only signatory, and requested tens of thousands of dollars from Hartford, according to an FBI affidavit.

Harvin then made more than 50 withdraws from the account totaling more than $25,000, including $1,158 in clothing. Transactions also included checks to himself, cash withdraws and food at McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts.

The new account received $70,000 in government funds and was quickly drained down to 77 cents, the affidavit said.

Harvin is not the first preacher to allegedly steal government funds intended for poor people while running a housing project.

Department of Housing and Urban Development projects have often been criticized for the way they give money to independent local housing authorities, which in turn often give money to local nonprofits. Groups receiving funding have often said it’s someone else’s job to enforce the rules after violations occur while the money keeps flowing. (RELATED: Two-Parent Families Get Subsidized Housing By Posing As Single Mothers)

In this case, the alleged fraud was caught because employees complained that they had not received their paychecks. (RELATED: HUD Paid Employee $1MILLION For Pain And Suffering Of Hearing ‘Racist’ Little Rascal Reference)

Zezzo House’s board confronted Harvin and he pledged to repay the missing funds within a week, but, according to the FBI affidavit, he did not.

On Sept. 28, 2016, a member of the board reported it as theft to the Hartford Police, and Harvin provided them a statement admitting he used the account for personal use, the affidavit says.

“Reverend Harvin’s ministry at Warburton Church ended in 2017, and thus — by extension — such service within the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ,” a Warburton Church spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

This post has been updated to include comment from Warburton Church.

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