Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

"Pastor Banks" arrested on charges of fraud

The founder of a St. Petersburg halfway house was arrested this week on charges of defrauding investors and a federal substance abuse treatment program out of as much as $50,000.

Police say Patrick Jay Banks, 49, concocted an elaborate scheme that enabled him to obtain federal funds for his Agape House in 2011 despite convictions for robbery and forgery.

The six-foot, 300-pound Pennsylvania native, who called himself "Pastor Banks,'' was among the subjects of a Tampa Bay Times investigation that last year revealed many halfway houses are run by felons and drug dealers.

Authorities say Banks twice took improper advantage of Access to Recovery, a federal program that pays for transitional housing and treatment for recovering addicts and alcoholics.

After his release from a Texas prison in the 1990s, Banks started House of Hope in St. Petersburg and applied for Access to Recovery funds using others' names.

In what investigators later called the "most egregious case of fraud, waste and abuse'' by any ATR provider in Florida, Banks submitted bills for residents long before they set foot inside House of Hope.

He also billed for job coaching for up to 50 people at a time even thought the meeting room held less than 10.

Banks collected more than $110,000 before he was permanently barred from the federal program in 2007.

Yet in 2011, Banks became involved with another St. Petersburg halfway house, Agape House, and again qualified for Access to Recovery funds. According to an arrest affidavit, the alleged scheme worked like this:

Using forged documents, Banks tricked private investors into giving him money on behalf of Agape House.

And Banks kept his name off paperwork so his criminal history would not prevent him from collecting federal funds.

About $50,000 was deposited in the Agape House account, but Banks withdrew several thousand dollars with money orders made out to himself and transferred more funds to his Texas bank account, the affidavit said.

Banks, charged with felony scheming to defraud, was arrested Wednesday and released on a $10,000 bond.

Agape House was dissolved as a corporation on April 12, state records show.

Halfway houses aren't Banks' only real estate ventures.

In a 2011 civil case, a judge ordered Banks to return the deeds to four St. Petersburg properties he had transferred to himself without the knowledge of the true owners.

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments
Rays’ Jake Faria may be out until August, Vidal Nuno called up

Rays’ Jake Faria may be out until August, Vidal Nuno called up

UPDATE, 5:32: Faria is looking at at extended absence, potentially into August. Cash said an estimate of 6-8 weeks was on the optimistic side. "From what we found out he got it pretty good," Cash said.  "So it could be a little bit longer than t...
Updated: 5 minutes ago

Sinkhole opens up near Bayfront Health’s Brooksville hospital

BROOKSVILLE — A large sinkhole opened up by Bayfront Health Brooksville hospital in a water retention pond between State Road 50 and the hospital’s parking lot, according to a hospital spokeswoman.The sinkhole poses no threat to hospital buildings, e...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County came closer on Wednesday to reaching an agreement with the school district that would give them most, but not all of the pay they expected this past year.The deal, if it happens, will end a year-long conflict t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
USF posts (mostly) solid APR marks

USF posts (mostly) solid APR marks

For the third consecutive year, all 16 USF sports programs posted Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores of 952 or better, well above the NCAA's minimum standard.But its two most prominent sports showed mild decreases.The 2016-17 APR scores (rolling fou...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

TAMPA — An Ohio mother was struck by a speeding car and killed Wednesday while pushing a stroller across Bayshore Boulevard and her 21-month-old daughter was seriously injured, Tampa police said.The two were hit by a northbound car around 11:43 a.m. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
State softball: Land O’Lakes advances to second straight title game

State softball: Land O’Lakes advances to second straight title game

VERO BEACH — Land O'Lakes had just finished a hard-fought 5-0 victory over Clay in the Class 6A state semifinal. Callie Turner threw a no-hitter. Jolene Bodner had a two-run single.The win was big, clinching the Gators' second straight champion...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Eckerd College student critically injured in campus accident just before graduation

Eckerd College student critically injured in campus accident just before graduation

ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College student fell from a ladder on campus in the hours before her graduation ceremony and remained hospitalized Wednesday with head injuries.Chicago native Rebecca Ryan Lavin-Burgher, known as Becca on campus and RyRy to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
State baseball: Carrollwood Day comes up a run short in semifinals

State baseball: Carrollwood Day comes up a run short in semifinals

FORT MYERS — One swing.That's all it took for Carrollwood Day's historic season to come to an end.With two outs and two runners on in the third inning of the Class 3A state semifinal against Tallahassee North Florida Christian, Patriots starter...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa charter review board recommendations go to City Council

Tampa charter review board recommendations go to City Council

TAMPA —After nine months of meetings, Tampa’s first City Charter review commission has delivered its recommendations.It’s a modest wish list but an important start, commissioners said in advance of today’s City Council workshop.Mostly, the commission...
Updated: 2 hours ago