A local pastor accused of exploiting an elderly person has been charged.
The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Pastor Raymond Vliet.
Vliet, pastor of Old Beth-el general Baptist Church in Mt. Morris Township, faces charges of embezzling $20,000 to $50,000 from a vulnerable adult and committing a financial transaction without consent.
Sheriff Robert Pickell said the investigation started after a loan officer noticed something suspicious. Pickell said that happened when Vliet, who had power of attorney for a 91-year-old parishioner and his wife, went to a credit union to get a loan for a pontoon.
"The pastor convinced the victim's wife before she died to sign over the modular home in the name of the church and it's Beth-el general Baptist Church. And she did that because she was so taken in by the pastor. He was doing God's work," Pickell said.
The loan officer denied the loan request, and while researching, found Vliet also had power of attorney for other members of the church, Pickell said. That’s when she called the Elder Abuse Task Force.
Pickell said when the credit union turned down the loan, the pastor went to another place and did secure a loan. He also got a loan for another vehicle when he learned the 91-year-old man’s vehicle couldn’t pull the pontoon.
When a welfare check was done at the victim’s house, Pickell said officials noticed some things that just weren’t right.
"That's a pastor that should go to hell," Pickell said.
Pickell believes the pastor exploited elderly churchgoers in Mid-Michigan.
"Using God and the church to bilk them out of money," Pickell said.
Pickell said Vliet has bonded out but said others may be charged.
Pickell also said there may be more victims. He has this advice for family members of loved ones who suffer from issues that affect their decision making.
"Don't be so trusting. And if you have people and family that are suffering from dementia, make sure you look in on them. Look at their records and everything every so often," Pickell said.