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HOUSTON — Three pastors from Jesus Survives Ministries, a now-defunct Houston-area church, have pleaded guilty for their roles in a conspiracy to commit COVID-19 relief and car loan fraud following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations Houston, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Inspector General.

William “Bill” Dexter Lucas, 60, and Deborah Jean Lucas, 64, both of Bryan, Texas, pleaded guilty Dec. 8. Brian Corpian, 45, of Houston, entered his plea Dec. 2.

All three individuals pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. They also admitted to making false statements and using false documents to fraudulently obtain loans.

Jesus Survives Ministries held no church or pastoral services for nearly a decade preceding the case. However, Bill and Deborah Lucas fraudulently obtained vehicles after making false financial statements about payroll at the church on loan applications.

Bill Lucas applied for multiple loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Paycheck Protection Program just days after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, commonly called the CARES Act, passed. He falsely claimed that Jesus Survives Ministries had gross revenues of almost $1 million in 2019. Deborah Lucas and Brian Corpian signed some of the false documents and called bank employees and the SBA to get application statuses.

When Bill Lucas became frustrated with bank employees’ failure to review and fund the loans quickly, he sent them accusatory and intimidating text messages and emails. He sent a bank employee a photograph of the employee’s own family, indicating he knew the employee’s wife’s and son’s names, as well as posted a diatribe on the church’s website calling bank employees “minions of Satan.”

One of the banks approved a $50,000 paycheck protection loan for the church, and after the Lucases received funding, they moved the money into another bank account and went on vacation to South Carolina.

Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for May 11, 2023. Each faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. The court permitted the defendants to remain on bond pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahra Jivani Fenelon, Kate Suh and Kristine Rollinson are prosecuting the case.

Homeland Security Investigations launched Operation Stolen Promise in April 2020 to protect the homeland from the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity. Since the operation’s inception, the directorate has capitalized upon its unique and expansive federal criminal investigative authorities; its strong intelligence analysis capabilities and resources; its expansive domestic and international footprint; and its robust law enforcement and private sector partnerships to lead the government’s investigative response to pandemic-related crime.

For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to aggressively investigate COVID-19 fraud in Southeast Texas follow us on Twitter @HSIHouston.

ICE breaking news Pastors of defunct church plead guilty to COVID-19, car loan fraud following HSI Houston, federal partner investigation Government Agency News