Friday, August 17, 2018
News Roundup

Lender: Tampa's Without Walls seeks bankruptcy to dodge foreclosure

TAMPA — Citing millions in liabilities, Without Walls International Church is seeking bankruptcy protection — a move a major lender asserts in court papers is an attempt to dodge a foreclosure judgment.

The California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union says the Tampa megachurch owes it $29 million. It calls Without Walls' filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 5 a "litigation tactic" to prevent foreclosure on the W Columbus Drive church and also a shuttered church in Polk County.

Without Walls defaulted on its loans before the bankruptcy filing and the credit union began foreclosure proceedings in October 2012, according to the motion filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The bankruptcy court has denied the credit union's request to move forward on the foreclosure case, said Michael J. Hooi, an attorney representing the church. Without Walls said in court documents filed Tuesday that the credit union's request was baseless.

Another hearing on the issue is scheduled for April, when the court may schedule a trial if the matter isn't resolved, Hooi said.

Without Walls filed a counterclaim to the foreclosure action in October 2012, alleging that the credit union schemed to prevent the sale of the church by encouraging pastor Randy White's former wife — Paula White — to take sound equipment from Without Walls to another church.

Paula White currently is senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, near Orlando.

In this week's filing, the credit union said the church's counterclaim was "spurious at best."

The credit union also alleges in court documents that the church pulled out of a deal last year that would have sold its property in Tampa to the Richman Group of Florida for $12.6 million, but that the church "refused to close on that sale at the last second."

The church lists an estimated $10 million to $50 million in both assets and liabilities, according to its petition. A Chapter 11 filing typically lets businesses continue to operate and come up with a plan for paying creditors.

The 12,000-member church was established in 1991. About 4,000 members attend one or more of its three weekly services at the Tampa site, according to the church. White, who resigned as senior pastor in 2009 because of what he called health concerns, returned to Without Walls in July 2012.

Without Walls once boasted 22,000 members and was among the fastest-growing congregations in the country. But half its members left after the Whites' 2007 divorce, and the church also has endured tough media scrutiny, an inquiry into its finances led by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and the ongoing foreclosure issue.

Comments
For starters: Rays at Red Sox, in another tough test

For starters: Rays at Red Sox, in another tough test

UPDATE, 6:30: Another round of heavy rain and lightning has come through, though Cash said earlier he was told the storm would clear out and the game would be played. A delay seems likely as the tarp is still on.UPDATE, 5:51: C Jesus Sucre said his s...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Putting a face to the name: Picture of Marine killed in Vietnam one of the missing

Putting a face to the name: Picture of Marine killed in Vietnam one of the missing

Private Ruben Bell Jr. has a name, a rank, a hometown, five service medals and several living family members. For 50 years, though, he has remained a ghost.Bell enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1967, when he was 19, and arrived in Vietnam that De...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Deputies: Clearwater man’s afternoon crime spree included stolen vehicles, burglarized homes

Deputies: Clearwater man’s afternoon crime spree included stolen vehicles, burglarized homes

CLEARWATER — A Clearwater man went on crime spree Thursday afternoon, stealing two vehicles, failing to steal two others and burglarizing three homes before being taken into custody, authorities say.Pinellas County deputies on Thursday arrested Shano...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
From Hawaii to the honky-tonk: Nashville’s in love with Marcus Mariota

From Hawaii to the honky-tonk: Nashville’s in love with Marcus Mariota

NASHVILLE — Ten thousand blue leis were distributed to Titans fans for the NFL draft on the day their team picked Marcus Mariota.The Heisman Trophy winner wasn't even at Nissan Stadium for the party, which drew a crowd of 20,000. But the warmth...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Police use stun gun on 87-year-old woman carrying a knife to cut dandelions

Police use stun gun on 87-year-old woman carrying a knife to cut dandelions

When Martha Al-Bishara went on a walk near her home in northern Georgia last week, she was on a quest for dandelions. The stroll would end in her getting stunned by a Taser and arrested by police officers.The 87-year-old woman often ventured outside ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Former Plant High football player charged with murder in Detroit

Former Plant High football player charged with murder in Detroit

Tykese Keaton-Baldwin wanted to be remembered as a state champion, the best running back in Plant High School history.Now, the 20-year-old former Panther is facing murder charges in Detroit and the possibility of leaving behind a much different legac...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Think you know stand your ground? The recent Clearwater case tells us you’re probably wrong.

Think you know stand your ground? The recent Clearwater case tells us you’re probably wrong.

When Michael Drejka was arrested Monday in the shooting of Markeis McGlockton, it ensured that Florida’s stand your ground law will remain under scrutiny for months to come.Beyond that? Little is clear.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Shooter charged with manslaug...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lawyers, judge hammer out details of the upcoming Jonchuck trial

Lawyers, judge hammer out details of the upcoming Jonchuck trial

LARGO — The logistics of putting John Jonchuck on trial for the 2015 murder of his 5-year-old daughter were hammered out in a courtroom on Friday.It is one of the most infamous crimes to be tried in Pinellas County in years, with the trial set to sta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Spring Hill baby boy dies after being left in hot car

Spring Hill baby boy dies after being left in hot car

SPRING HILL — A 9-month-old boy died Friday after being left in a hot car at his family home, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.The child, Keyton O’Callaghan, was found in a car seat at about 11:30 a.m. by his father, Eric O’Callaghan...
Updated: 1 hour ago