Officer With Christian Missionary Group Indicted on Embezzlement Counts

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A grand jury in Loudoun County, Virginia has indicted the chief administrative officer of a non-profit Christian missionary group on 17 counts of embezzlement for allegedly having stolen over $700,000.

Eun Tae Lee, 50, is accused of having written checks from the account of Seed International, Inc. to his own personal account. According to authorities, Lee used the embezzled funds to bankroll a “lavish lifestyle,” which include a second residence and a Porsche Cayenne sport-utility vehicle.

Seed International, a missionary group sponsored by the Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Vienna, Virginia, is funded by numerous Korean churches around the world. Its attorney, F. Douglas Ross, said that the groups is “an international humane organization that provides missionary services and support across the globe.”

The company’s annual report to the Virginia State Corporation Commission listed Won Sang Lee as the president of Seed, and Chang Soo Ro as the secretary. Both are also involved with the Korean Central Presbyterian Chruch, Won Sang Lee as the retired senior pastor and Chang Soo Ro as its current senior pastor.

After some of Seed’s officials noticed that money was missing from the missionary group’s account, they confronted Lee, who allegedly produced fake bank statements and other financial documents in an attempt to demonstrate that he had invested the church’s funds. Officials later learned from a representative of the bank that the paperwork was phony, according to an affidavit issued by the Loudoun Sheriff’s Office.

In April, Authorities searched Lee’s home in Fairfax county, as well as an apartment in Annandale which Lee is said to have rented using the ill-gotten funds, and confiscated documents and computers. At the time, Lee appeared before a magistrate to face one charge of embezzlement.

The Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office said last week that, after a preliminary hearing in June, a grand jury indicted Lee on 17 counts of embezzlement. His case is set for trial on March 14, 2011.

Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney James E. Plowman called the case “very troubling, given the significant amount of funds that are involved, and particularly aggravating, given the charitable nature of the work the victims perform.”

It is unclear how long the embezzlement may have lasted, or where donations may have originated. Lee was first listed as an officer of the non-profit group beginning with its annual report of 2008.

 

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