Geneva County Sheriff's deputies took a former church pastor into custody on Wednesday after a judge sentenced him to prison for stealing from his own church.
District Attorney Kirke Adams said Circuit Court Judge P.B. McLauchlin Jr. sentenced Steven McQueen to serve 90 months in prison for three felony first-degree theft convictions. Adams said the judge then split each of those sentences, and ordered McQueen to serve 15 months in prison with no probation. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other.
Adams said McQueen was convicted of stealing from a church where he served as pastor in Geneva called the Solid Rock Worship Center.
"This is an usual case. We have a lot of cases where people steal from their employer," Adams said. "This case was so offensive because he used his position as a pastor to steal from his church, and ultimately he destroyed this church and left it in debt."
McQueen was convicted of stealing more than $250,000 from the church.
"He had talked the church into building a new sanctuary, basically a new church," Adams said. "There were items purchased that were never put into the church. The material used to build this new addition did not add up to anywhere close to what had been paid to Mr. McQueen in that he was acting as the preacher and contractor. He was the preacher and the builder."
Attorney David Harrison, who represented McQueen, said his client submitted an appeal on the case. Harrison said even though his client was taken into custody he expected him to post his $10,000 appeal bond set for each charge by the court.
Harrison said his client contended during the trial that it was a civil case, not a criminal case, and that the alleged missing money was actually put back into the church.
"He steadfastly indicated to the court he was innocent," Harrison said. "He said he's not a thief, he's not a criminal and he expects to appeal it. He will exonerate himself."