Chattanooga man pleads guilty of defrauding church of $1.5 million
Published 9:35 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023
CHATTANOOGA – On February 27, David Michael Apps, 50, of Chattanooga, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343. Apps is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27 before the Honorable Charles E. Atchley Jr. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
According to court documents filed by the United States, from 2014 through 2021, Apps, the business manager of Broad Street United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tenn., devised a scheme in which he used an official church credit card to pay for personal expenses in excess of $1.5 million dollars. Some of these expenses included payment for personal travel, automobiles, medical bills for family members, boat/watercraft and marina fees, and firearms, none of which was related to church business. Apps also wrote checks to himself under the guise of church member donations to support supposed medical bills relating to his false claim that he had brain cancer. The specific count of conviction involves the use of the church credit card to buy a luxury watch from an expensive retailer in California for $3,711. Apps faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment on the wire fraud count, along with significant fines, restitution, and forfeiture of property.
Assistant United States Attorney Steven Neff represents the United States. The investigation was conducted by the FBI as part of the Smoky Mountains Financial Crimes Task Force.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.