Minneapolis Pastor Accused of Stealing Thousands from Vulnerable Adult

Gregory Oats faces four felony charges

Fox 9 News, Minnesota/October 26, 2011

Minneapolis -- A metro pastor is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from one of his vulnerable parishioners.

Vern Rollins, 78, is just about as vulnerable as you can get. He suffers from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and paranoid schizophrenia. His family told FOX 9 News that the man entrusted with Rollins' spiritual healing, Gregory Oats, has been charged with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Rollins after taking control of his finances.

"It's just a shame," says Rollins' daughter, Rachel Rollins. "I'm sure we could provide a lot more for him if we had the money."

Rachel said her father met Oats four years ago, right around the time his health started to decline rapidly.

"They started to offer to drive him to his doctors appointments and I thought nothing of it, basically it's the Christian thing to do," says Rachel.

Quickly Rachel says within months concerns started piling up. While Rachel was out of state last summer she says Pastor Oats took control of her father's finances, gave himself power of attorney, and moved Rollins into the Golden Living Center Nursing Home.

"When I came back I came here to visit him, I was told by the nursing staff that there were orders that I couldn't see him," said Rachel Rollins. "Then, I knew something was up. Greg and his wife told him they had power of attorney and didn't want me visiting my dad."

Rollins relies on disability checks and Social Security. All but $89 out of what he receives each month goes to the nursing home.

"There was a threat the victim would be kicked out of the facility," says Lt. Greg Reinhardt, with the Minneapolis Police Department's Vulnerable Adult Sector.

Investigators say Oats helped himself to more than $16,000 of Rollins' money and neglected to pay another $13,000 in nursing home bills between June of 2010 and March of 2011.

"There were charges on the credit card and ATM for Home Depot, McDonalds, Mall of America.," said Reinhardt. "The victim had only been out of the care facility one time."

Oats is facing four counts of felony financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. According the criminal complaint, he admitted to investigators he should have paid the nursing home bill. Oats promised to pay the nearly $13,000 balance back in March. So far, he has not made a single payment.

FOX 9 News tried to contact Oats, but he did not return our calls. At his apartment, his wife said she didn't know anything about the charges -- or about her husband's relationship with Rollins even though Rachel Rollins said her father had lived with Oats and his wife.

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