Saturday, February 7, 2004

Troopers search pastor's home

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLD SPRING - State police searched the home of the Rev. Larry Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church here, Friday afternoon as part of the expanding probe into the congregation's finances.

"Detectives are looking for financial records of both the church and Mr. Davis," said Trooper Tom Lilley, spokesman for Post 6 in Dry Ridge. "This includes paper and electronic records."

Lilley said detectives served search warrants at the home, located next to a cemetery owned by the church on Pooles Creek Road No. 1, and at the church. Troopers arrived at both locations at 3:30 p.m. and left shortly after 6 p.m.

Campbell District Judge Karen Thomas sealed both search warrants.

State prosecutors have said investigators are trying to determine whether thousands of dollars from a church account were withdrawn at horse race tracks and spent at gambling sites.

Davis, who was instrumental in bringing the Rev. Billy Graham to Cincinnati in June 2002, left his home in a green 3-series BMW at 5 p.m. without taking questions from reporters lined up outside. Messages left at his home were not returned.

His attorney, Jim Morgan of Newport, said his client had not been charged with a crime and is cooperating with detectives.

"Clearly, we knew there was going to be a request, or gathering of financial records," Morgan said. "I'm not surprised by the subpoenas."

Lilley said any financial records removed from the home or church will be turned over to auditors from the state police special investigations unit. The group is doing a forensic audit of the church's financial records.

Church Treasurer Darryl Neltner wrote to Kentucky State Police on Jan. 23. The letter said Fifth Third Bank had contacted the church about "unusual transactions."


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