CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local pastor indicted for tax fraud says he's innocent.
Pastor Anthony Jinwright issued a statement Thursday night saying: "I am not guilty of such allegations. No evidence to support these charges has been presented to me and I therefore await my day in court. Our constitution upholds the judicial system and each citizen of this country is innocent until proven guilty. I would appreciate that the facts about this matter be uncovered in the courtroom and not in the newsroom. Saddened by the indictment, the members of Greater Salem Church have surrounded my family and me from the initial investigation in prayer, love and support and have pledged to continue the same during these proceedings. I hope that other faith communities will join with us in prayer support. There will be no further comments."
Jinwright met with members of the New Salem Church Thursday night behind closed doors to talk about the allegations.
Jinwright has been indicted on 14 charges involving tax evasion.
Acting U.S. Attorney Edward R. Ryan and IRS agents in Charlotte announced the indictment Tuesday afternoon, saying Jinwright is charged with five counts of tax evasion, five counts of tax perjury, one count of lying to federal agents and three counts of mail fraud.
The indictment alleges that from 2001 through at least 2006, Jinwright attempted to evade his federal tax obligations by failing to report more than $800,000 in taxable income, including at least $75,000 in income earned by his wife.
It also says that Jinwright owes between $200,000 and $400,000 in additional taxes for those years alone.
Jinwright has been the Senior Pastor at the Greater Salem Church in Charlotte since 1981.
According to the indictment, Jinwright has consistently filed his tax returns late between 2000 and 2007 and that each of the returns for 2002 through at least 2006 substantially under reports income earned in those years.
The indictment charges that during those years, Jinwright reported just slightly more than $1.1 million in income, whereas his true income was nearly $2 million.
The indictment also alleges that Jinwright knew that his returns were false because his personal expenditures during those years far exceeded his reported taxable income.
Among the personal purchases listed in the indictment are: the lease of luxury vehicles, which required average annual lease payments of more than $70,000; mortgage payments on two homes of between $75,000 and almost $100,000; personal living expenses, including utilities, lawn care, dry cleaning, house cleaning, and car washes totaling more than $85,000 per year.
In addition to the tax crimes, the indictment also alleges that Jinwright engaged in mail fraud in connection with financing for several of his leased luxury vehicles. Jinwright is accused of providing false information by fraudulently inflating his income in order to secure lease financing.
A man who spoke to NewsChannel 36 Tuesday afternoon says his wife recently left the church because she felt Jinwright was all about money, and that he wouldn't help her pay an electric bill.
"They keep constantly asking for extra money in the offerings and stuff like that," said the man, who did not want to be identified. "And, he was supposed to have built a new church and never built a new church. Instead he opened up another funeral home instead of the church. So we were kind of wondering where the money went, so she kind of just up and left."
(The Associated Press contributed.)