Racketeering , Fraud, Bankruptcy, Breach of Contract
The image many people have of the Universal Life Church started by Kirby Hensley is far from what the Modesto church became in Rev. Hensley’s later years. Once an organization that stood for inclusion and freedom, Hensley’s successors in Modesto used the ULC’s good name to perpetrate multiple crimes. As a result, in 1984 the IRS revoked the tax exemptions for contributions to the Universal Life Church of Modesto.
“In the past 11 months, $1.85 million was claimed for tax-exempt contributions to Universal Life in the revenue service’s office’s northern and central California service area, Mr. Sassi said. The claims were filed by 113 taxpayers.”
In 1989 the Universal Life Church (Modesto) filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy while claiming that they were not required to pay income taxes on their salary, file tax returns, or prepare financial statements for the government:
Federal, and State investigators, uncovered that the Hensley family had amassed a considerable fortune of cash reserves and property via its Universal Life Church scam. What you see below is a document of the family’s real estate holdings. They are another piece of vast corruption within their ranks.
In addition to these assets, the Hensley’s held over half a million dollars in interest payments and cash in various banks:
The Hensley family ran an elaborate scam with those that would get ordained through their church. They accepted large sums of money from ministers under the guise of donations as a way to bypass the individuals’ income tax. In exchange the “church” extracted a percentage fee. A 1988 decision against defendant Robert V. Fike brought more government scrutiny to the Universal Life Church of Modesto.
The US government deemed these actions worth investigating. These illegally acquired assets amounted to $3,236,986 in total; approximately $5,426,000 when adjusted for inflation. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
During the court proceedings, over 20 Universal Life Church ministers sued the Hensley operated church in Modesto; in State and Federal Courts over charges of fraud, racketeering, and more. These legal court documents show a systematic misuse of contributions from duped ULC ministers from around the country. This Universal Life Church scam has cause much apprehension, in that it raises the question: “Have the Hensley’s ever refunded the monies that were taken from these and many other ministers?”
New Chapter in Feud with IRS Goes to Court
ORLANDO, Fla. — Three former Orlando residents are on trial in U.S. District Court on charges of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by recruiting church members to the controversial Universal Life Church and advising them how to write off much of their income.
“The theme of the overt acts in this trial is ‘there is a sucker born every minute,’ and in Central Florida . . . there were a number of suckers,” Bruce Hinshelwood, a federal prosecutor, told the jury in the trial of Scott Slayback Jr., 60, William Wakeman Jr., 46, and David Hurley, 54.
Dentists, schoolteachers and principals, housewives, executives and salesmen paid up to $1,500 to join the Modesto, Calif.-based church, which has been locked in a feud with the IRS nationwide for more than a decade.
Members were told they could write off half or all of their income by donating it to church chapters they formed, Hinshelwood said.
What Happened to the Money?
In November of 1988, the Hensley’s quietly formed a new, unincorporated association under the same name: “Universal Life Church”. This new organization also took money from the general public:
The fact that the Modesto church felt it necessary to incorporate a new “Providential Investments Holding Corporation” in 1981 should have raised a red flag.
There is no record to show that the money taken in by this new association was not simply another diversion of cash flow. This begs many big questions: Which entity holds the money? Records the ordinations? Is this still an active and legitimate church or organization or is this Universal Life Church a scam?
We strongly suggested that you get ordained or re-ordained at http://themonastery.org/. As the facts show, any ordinations via the Modesto church may hold questionable legality.
When The Monastery contacted the Modesto Church (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request clarification on this matter, no explanation was granted.