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Augusta minister convicted of theft in tax scheme

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - The former minister of an Augusta church faces up to 20 years in prison after a jury convicted him of stealing nearly $123,000 using fraudulent tax returns.

The Augusta Chronicle reports a U.S. District court judge ordered 36-year-old Jesse J. Flournoy III of Riverdale taken into custody pending sentencing. Jurors convicted him Friday on charges of conspiracy, theft of public money and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say Flournoy was ringleader of a scheme in which IRS tax return checks made out to other people were cashed at a Columbia County check-cashing business.

Shonta Merriweather testified she would cash the checks for the minister using power of attorney forms that made it look like she was authorized to handle the payments. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges last month.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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