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Massachusetts Adventist Pastor Arrested and Accused of Defrauding Seniors
Submitted: Apr 6, 2012
By AT News Team

Luther Raposo, an ordained minister in the Southern New England Conference assigned to pastor the Taunton and Foxboro churches in the suburbs of Boston, was arrested Tuesday and arraigned Thursday on charges of attempted larceny, identity fraud and document fraud. Detective Thomas Kirrane testified that bank officials at Foxboro Federal Savings had tipped the police to a scam in which at least four people in their 70s and 80s from Michigan, New Mexico and Arkansas gave Raposo their social security numbers and he made online arrangements with the Social Security Administration to have their checks deposited in an account he opened. The senior citizens were told by Raposo that they had won a lottery, according to reports in The Foxboro Reporter and The Sun Chronicle.
Pastor Raposo claims that he is also a victim in the scam and sent $3,500 to a man in Florida, according to the Boston Herald. It is unclear the extent to which the police believe this to be true. “It’s certainly a conspiracy by two or more people,” Kirrane is quoted as stating in The Foxboro Reporter, but the Boston Herald  states the “cops don’t buy it” and quotes the detective saying Raposo’s claim is “not credible. He wants you to think he’s cooperating, but he’s really not. He thinks he’s a little smarter than everyone else.”
Evidently Raposo did not use contacts he made through the denomination in the scam. He “allegedly telephoned the victims randomly,” stated the copyrighted story in The Sun Chronicle.  He is alleged to have told the victims that they had won a lottery in order to get them to give him information that he could use to divert their Social Security checks.
The police presented evidence that indicates that Raposo has had severe financial difficulties. “He allegedly defaulted on $60,000 in loans he obtained from six different banks in 2010,” The Sun Chronicle reported from police testimony in court. “He has filed for bankruptcy. Raposo told police he sent the money to England to process an estate he inherited.”
Raposo was released on bail and is due back in court on May 1. He is 51 and married, with three children. One child is in college, according to news reports.
Frank Tochterman, president of the Southern New England Conference, told the Boston Herald yesterday that Pastor Raposo has been placed on indefinite paid leave until the charges are dealt with. The conference president also told the newspaper about an “unrelated unusual behavior” and a medical condition. “He’s unable to fulfill his pastoral responsibilities,” the president is quoted. “The family indicates that his medical condition has contributed to his behavior and what he’s being accused of.” Church administrators are routinely advised by legal counsel to be careful not to make direct accusations in situations such as this and not to violate the privacy of the employee involved. “Of course this is embarrassing to the churches in the area, and it’s embarrassing to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a whole.”
There is no indication that Raposo took money from church members or even approached them for funds, although he evidently has had some fund raising responsibilities in his role as a pastor. The home page of the Foxboro Seventh-day Adventist Church web site says, “We are currently launching another Stewardship Campaign! We are trying to pay the loan off in three years instead of twenty to save as much money as possible. … In total we have commitments of $282,000. This is enough to pay the loan off and start the new Sabbath School rooms we need.”

Share your thoughts about this article:

Jeffrey Helsius
2012-04-06 2:12 PM

It never ceases to sadden me deeply how often the ministry is tarnished by moral failures, but it doesn't surprise me.  An organization in Kentucky was commissioned some years back to study the habits and life practices of SDA ministers.  The results were so disappointing and shocking, the statistics were officially under reported.  What is wrong?  It is simple.  If the gospel message of the cross is not preached from the pulpit, if faith in the sanctifying blood of the cross is not emphasized as THE ANSWER to life's sin problems, the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit will not be present in the life of the pastor, will not be present in the pulpit, and will not be present in the church.  Knowledge of Biblical theology is not a substitute for the knowledge of Jesus which only comes through a relationship with Him.  In Hosea 4:6 the Lord tells us that His people perish for a lack of knowledge.  What will happen to those who may know their Bibles, but don't have genuine knowledge of Jesus in relationship?  Jesus will one day say, "I never knew you." Matt. 7:23.  As we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this weekend, may you determine to be faithful and may you determine to know Him more.  If your pastor doesn't mention Jesus or the cross this weekend, consider the implications of that knowledge, consider the implications of that truth.

Henri Christophe
2012-04-06 11:56 PM

This is not good news but we have to remain strong and it is an indication that we as Christians are not immune to snare of the devil. Let's continue praying and not to be distracted from that situation.

Nathan Schilt
2012-04-07 8:54 PM

Will someone please help me understand why Pastor Raposo has been placed  on PAID LEAVE until the charges are dealt with??? What does that even mean? It would be outrageous for the conference to keep him on paid leave until the criminal charges are resolved, without any attempt to conduct its own inquiry. Pastor Raposo is entitled to the presumption of innocence as far a the criminal charges are concerned. But the presumption of innoecence does not apply to employment matters. If the conference has evidence of criminal wrongdoing, which it obviously does, to should move as quickly as possible with its own investigation. The burden at this point in time should be on Pastor Raposo to demonstrate to his employer that the charges may well be unfounded. Otherwise, he should, at the very least, be suspended without pay. It sounds to me like cronyism and personal feelings are keeping Pastor Raposo on the gravy train.

2012-04-09 10:03 PM

Nathan, Suppose Raposo is innocent?  No one knows until the case is settled.  In the meanwhile, and seeing there is no previous deviant record on the guy, the right thing to do is to have him on paid leave.  If he proved innocent some can sue the conference for 'jumping to conclusions' and taking away his salary.  Also, the family presumably are innocent and can be benefited by the salary.  Just being cautious.  Take good care.

Foxboro SDA Church Member
2012-04-10 10:34 AM

Do be careful in what you read. There have been some inaccuracies in the news reports, and because most of the news articles out there are directly quoting the inaccurate stories, you have widespread faulty information.


First of all, the last paragraph of the article above is false. Raposo has not had anything to do with fundraising at the church since he started there in fall of 2010. The website quoted is an old website that has very dated information about a previous building campaign that ended in 2008.

While Christians are certainly not immune to the snare of the devil, we onlookers should be careful not to cast stones, however tiny of a pebble they may seem, before the full truth comes out. There is a lot that reports have not included. Pray for the reporters, investigators, police, etc in their dealings with this situation, and pray that truth is made clear. Also pray for the hurting families involved--the elderly victims as well as the Raposo family.

2012-04-10 12:37 PM

We should be more concerned about what this says about us as a community than what it says about him as an individual.  If we are so ready to shoot our wounded why should anyone one want to cast his lot in with us?

Edwin A. Schwisow
2012-04-13 3:28 PM

Culturally we tend to ascribe higher "sinfulness" to some seriously flawed behavior, compared to other immoral and illegal acts. A treasurer of a union once lamented that in the church, a pastor who misuses  funds is ordinarily seen as far less a sinner than one who commits adultery; hence, those with a tendency to venture far with money often find avenues for redemption and reassignment in the church. Those alleged to have committed sexual sins are generally terminated forthwith, without continuing pay or recognition for past accomplishments. The Puritan New England ethic and its stringent proscriptions against sexual deviance remain very powerful, still, in North American Adventism. Other sins are seen as far more forgivable for the fallen lay or professional minister.

Truth Seeker
2012-04-15 10:54 AM

I can't agree with most of which Scwisow writes and will not take time to refute what he writes.

In any case there is definitely and should be a higher standard of conduct for a man of the cloth. It does not mean he is above temptation, it does mean he must be especially circumspect in any of his actions.

And, as has been at least implied, we should not throw him under the bus; let justice be meted out after proper investigation.

Edwin A. Schwisow
2012-04-15 1:32 PM

Those who seek truth may discover a reality at odds with what I experienced as a union-conference worker for the church this past decade, involved from time to time in mitigation of the effects of various clerical misbehavior. I did find that by far the most difficult situations involved alleged sexual malpractice or deviance among Adventist employees. The tendency in by-far most cases (not all, but most) was to dismiss them from employment forthwith. Times, situations, cultural realities can alter a status quo that nonetheless I believe remains essentially intact today in providing greater leniency for those accused of mishandling money, as compared to those accused of mishandling the flesh....

Elaine Nelson
2012-04-15 2:36 PM

That sexual "sins" are far worse that monetary is well demonstrated in the handling of employees.  Even a former G.C. president was involved in money-raising schemes as other lower employees, but these were handled differently than those accused of sexual practices. 

Nothing has changed, it seems and as long as the church has degrees of sin it will continue.

Edwin A. Schwisow
2012-04-15 5:54 PM

We must also consider that "all have sinned and come short" in the biblical sense, and the decision to terminate, slap the wrist, ignore the behavior, or even applaud a person for finding brilliant loopholes in an otherwise steadfast rule is largely culturally driven and dependent on prevailing public and civil mores.

Nathan Schilt
2012-04-16 1:59 AM

Those who want to urge caution, withholding judgment, and extending mercy are missing the boat. First of all, I haven't seen anyone here suggest that this pastor is guilty of the charges against him. Nor have we been casting stones. Second, the conference obviously has learned sufficient information to conclude that the charges have merit. Otherwise, it would not have placed the pastor on paid leave. So, if there is enough information to enable the conference to put him on leave, what is it waiting for, and what is preventing it from moving forward with a determination of the facts and whether they warrant terminating his pay and/or firing him? 

The SDA Church tenaciously clings to its independence from the civil courts when it comes to ministerial personnel matters. Why in the world would it defer to the criminal courts in matters of moral turpitude, unless it simply wants to pass the buck for political expediency? There may be compelling reasons to allow the pastor to draw his salary pending resolution of the criminal proceedings. I just can't imagine what they might be, and I think the Conference has an obligation to let tithepayers know those reasons.  

Were the pastor accused of having had an affair with the church organist (not a crime), do you think the conference would place him on paid leave until the charges were dealt with? The contrast between the summary manner in which the La Sierra 4 were asked to resign, in a case involving neither moral turpitude nor criminal conduct, and the manner in which this criminal matter, clearly involving moral turpitude, is being handled is startling.

No one is suggesting throwing the pastor under the bus or letting his family starve. But behavior has consequences. Holding people accountable for breaches of trust is not inconsistent with forgiveness. It is simply a matter of whether the Conference should be responsible stewards of its resources. Whether or not this pastor is found guilty of the criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt should have no bearing on the Conference's investigation and action. 

Those who support keeping the pastor on indefinite paid leave "until the charges are dealt with" need to explain why the Conference, as good stewards, should not immediately conduct its own investigation, and act on the results of that investigation as appropriate. Right now, indefinite paid leave until charges are dealt with makes it look like the Conference is just ducking an issue that needs to be resolved, and like it is being a poor steward of tithe resources.


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