The News Times reports…
“A former executive pastor at a New Milford megachurch won’t be going to jail for embezzling more than $220,000 from a car wash owned by the church’s pastor and several other church officials.
He was initially charged with five counts of first-degree larceny and two counts of second-degree larceny, but pleaded guilty instead to three first-degree larceny counts.
The Merryall Road, New Milford resident stole the money from Squeaky’s Car Wash on Newtown Road in Danbury between December 2007 and June 2008.
Judge Susan Reynolds said Valentine, who will be on probation for five years, must also finish making restitution to the victims, including Faith Church pastor Frank Santora Jr.; his father, Frank Santora Sr.; Rick DuBois, who is Frank Santora Jr.’s father-in-law; and two men, who became silent partners after the business began experiencing financial problems.
Valentine has repaid nearly $130,000, but still owes more than $80,000, according to court documents.
Valentine didn’t put any money into the venture, but served as the operating partner. He embezzled the money by writing checks to fictitious contractors or builders who had actually done work at the car wash, endorsed them himself and then deposited the proceeds into his own account, according to Danbury police, who investigated the case.
In other cases, he made out checks for more than the amount of work done and had the contractors kick back part of the money to him, according to investigators.
Valentine had previously sought accelerated rehabilitation on the charges, a disposition that, if granted, would have imposed a period of probation and cleared the arrest from his record. His attorney, public defender Mark Johnson, argued that criminal conviction would have cost Valentine, a contractor who he said builds “high-end homes in Fairfield County,” his state license and left him unable to repay his victims.
But prosecutors objected, and another Superior Court judge turned down the request earlier this year.
Pending completion of an investigation by the Department of Adult Probation, Valentine is due back in court for formal sentencing on Aug. 14.”