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BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida man is facing a list of charges after investigators said he defrauded a church to get money to buy drugs.

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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a news release that agents arrested James Edward Smith on charges of fraud, grand theft, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and organized scheme to defraud. Smith was the pastor of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Pompano Beach.

Investigators with FDLE said that their investigation into Smith began in April 2022, when they received complaints from church parishioners and founders that Smith had fraudulently gained control of the church and its money.

Detectives said Smith forged a quit claim deed, which allowed him to assume control of the church’s property, which he then sold for $600,000. Smith is accused of using the money to support a drug habit.

When Smith was arrested, police who searched his residence said they found heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and a stolen gun, WSVN reported.

Smith was also charged by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for larceny and fraud, after allegedly writing $1,600 in fraudulent checks from the church’s bank account.