In recent posts, I have been examining various real estate transactions and IRS filings involving Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. and Terry Jones, pastor of the affiliated Dove World Outreach Center. As the organizer of various hate campaigns promoting Islamophobia or homophobia, Jones has actively focused significant attention on himself and his church. Even though the planned burning of the Quran was canceled at the last minute, reaction to the plan and to the media hype surrounding it has resulted in protests that have turned deadly. Although Jones’ and Dove World’s disgusting statements and signs are protected free speech, Jones’ action in promoting himself as a media figure brings with it the higher level of scrutiny that is routine for those who seek to become social icons.
In this post, I will provide the details from an extensive search of public records relating to several of the business entities involving Jones and Dove World, assembling all of the information into a timeline such as those for which Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel is known. Data in the timeline can be verified by repeating the public database searches I carried out. For corporate information, sunbiz.org is the site where Florida corporate data can be found. For Alachua County property records, the website of the County Clerk is the appropriate starting point.
The overall impression from the amassed data is that, at the very least, Jones and Dove World have been extremely sloppy in mixing the use of the Dove World site for non-profit church activities and for-profit businesses. Jones has claimed that these businesses donate a portion of their proceeds back into the church to keep it operational. If keeping the church operational were the sole purpose of the private businesses, however, why aren’t those operations carried out under the non-profit structure of the church? If all of the properties had been purchased in the church’s name and all of the other business were also carried out by the church, with the cash flow clearly documented in up-to-date Form 990′s filed by Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc., there would be no reason for suspicion. By mixing the church activites and private businesses, Jones has created an environment in which it appears that he and the other officers of the businesses can enrich themselves partly through the tax status and volunteer labor status conferred by the church.
In summary, I have found nine residential properties purchased for a total purchase price of $947,900. These properties were purchased with the deeds being placed in various individual and corporate names as detailed in the timeline below. Mortgages still outstanding on these properties were taken out with original amounts totaling $620,632. Subtracting the outstanding mortgages from the purchase prices yields "cash" outlays for these properties of $327,268. This is remarkably close to the total of the two mortgages taken out on Dove World Property in 2006 of $305,000. However, the Form 990 filed for 2006 (pdf) also noted that a previous outstanding mortgage of approximately $46,500 was paid off from these proceeds. Adding in the old mortgage settlement, it would appear that less than $70,000 in additional funds would be required to purchase these properties if one assumes the Dove World mortgages were used for the purchases. Only an analysis of bank records, which are not public information, would be able to determine whether the funds raised by mortgaging the church property were indeed used in these real estate transactions.
In examining the information in the timeline, it is useful to keep in mind this excellent interview of Jones by Gainesville Sun reporter Megan Rolland. Note also that the accompanying story by Rolland, filed in July of 2009, was over a year ahead of the often-quoted der Spiegel article that "discloses" much of the same information about the Jones church in Germany. Rolland notes in her article that the Sun was aware of six properties, four in Phoenix and two in Pineridge, while my analysis expands that total to seven in Phoenix and two in Pineridge.
Note from the interview that Jones claims that the furniture business is paying rent to Dove World and is paying Dove World’s mortgage (which would have been completely paid off at the time of this 2009 interview if the new mortgages had not been taken out in 2006). It should also be pointed out that at least one investigation has found evidence that the furniture business may include very expensive collectors’ material purchased at auction in Europe. One would expect the rent information to be reflected in the Form 990′s filed by Dove World. Unfortunately, the most recent Form 990 available is for a fiscal year covering most of 2006 (pdf) (even though most charities have much more up-to-date forms filed). This 2006 filing does not show rent being paid, even though the TS & Company general partnership (but not the LLC, see the timeline below) was already in existence at that time. At the very least, the arrangement of having for-profit businesses operating out of church property makes for a very messy situation in determining the tax-exempt status of the property and creates a situation that on the surface has tremendous inherent conflict of interest when the senior management of both the non-profit church and for-profit businesses are the same people.
It is interesting also to consider the calling of the church mortgages and the TS & Company (general partnership) mortgages by RBC Bank earlier this year. In the letter from RBC that Jones shared with local television news, it can be seen that RBC is referring to a "material adverse event" having prompted the calling of the mortgages. One possibility for the adverse event is that the IRS filed a lien against Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. on August 17, 2009 for $4417.65 in unpaid payroll taxes. This lien was quickly settled, but because it is possible the bank did not receive word of the lien being released. The mortgage document on file with the county contains a clause allowing the bank to demand payment in full in the event of a lien being placed on the property. Alternatively, the bank could have been referring to the increased attention on the possible conflation of church and business finances prompted by the Gainesville Sun article mentioned above as the adverse event.
Finally, here is the timeline:
June 20, 1993 Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. takes out $425,000 15 year note to construct church building.
March 13, 2002 Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. annual report filed with State of Florida removes President and director Dennis Watson and elevates Terry Jones from director to president and director.
March 7, 2005 TS & Company general partnership registered with State of Florida, with general partners Wayne Sapp, Terry Jones and Sylvia Jones.
May 18, 2005 Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. annual report filed with State of Florida removes registered agent David Cox and adds registered agent to Jones’ roles as president and director. David Cox and Elsie Northrup are removed as directors and Sylvia Jones, Wayne Sapp and Stephanie Sapp are added as directors.
January 30, 2006 Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. takes out $25,000 mortgage.
March 21, 2006 TS & Company purchases Pineridge 3 for $80,000 and takes out mortgage of $68,582. Both deed and mortgage in name of TS & Company.
June 1, 2006 Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. takes out $285,000 mortgage on church property. This is a balloon payment mortgage according to documents filed with Alachua County. Recording date of loan is June 1, document is dated May19. IRS Form 990 filed for this period lists the loan as only for $113,885 and says it is used to pay off the 1993 mortgage. However, this same 990 indicates only $46,500 was owed on the 1993 mortgage at the beginning of the reporting period. The 1993 mortgage does now appear to be paid off, but no satisfaction document is in the county database.
June 28, 2006 Terry and Sylvia Jones purchase Phoenix 72 for $95,000 and take out mortgage for $85,500. Both deed and mortgage in the names Terry Jones and Sylvia Jones.
September 27, 2006 Terry Jones purchases Phoenix 16 for $100,000 and takes out mortgage for $90,000. Both deed and mortgage in name of Terry Jones.
October 11, 2006 Terry Jones purchases Phoenix 41for $99,900 and takes out mortgage for $89,900. Both deed and mortgage in name of Terry Jones.
November 27, 2006 TS & Company purchases Phoenix 15 for $81,500 and takes out mortgage for $73,350. Both mortgage and deed are in name of TS & Company.
December 4, 2006 Mortgage on Phoenix 41 paid off.
February 5, 2007 TS & Company LLC incorporated with Terry Jones as registered agent, member and manager. Sylvia Jones named as member and manager. Wayne Sapp named as manager.
February 5, 2007 Mortgage on Phoenix 16 paid off.
March 26, 2007 Phoenix 26 and Phoenix 17 are purchased for $100,000 each and mortgages of $80,000 are taken out on each property. The deeds are in the name of TS & Company LLC and the mortgages are in the names of TS & Company LLC, Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp.
April 6, 2007 Phoenix 16 deeded to Engel and Engel of Cologne, Germany (not the same Engels mentioned in the Megan Rolland Gainesville Sun article).
April 24, 2007 Phoenix 35 is purchased for $104,000 and a mortgage of $83,200 is taken out. Deed is in name of TS & Company LLC and mortgage is in names of TS & Company LLC, Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp.
June 12, 2007 Deborah Heights 21 deeded to Terry and Sylvia Jones as a gift from a church member.
September 28, 2007 Terry Jones purchases Pineridge 25 for $187,500 and takes out mortgage for $150,000. Both deed and mortgage are in name of Terry Jones.
Sometime in 2008, date unknown. Jones is ousted from Cologne church.
April 30, 2008 Phoenix 41 is deeded to Reichert of Cologne, Germany.
August 21, 2008 Deborah Heights 21 deeded to Luke Jones and Anna Jones, son and daughter-in-law of Terry.
July 19, 2009 Gainesville Sun publishes damaging story about Dove and TS & Company.
August 17, 2009 IRS lien of $4417.65 (payroll taxes) filed against Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc.
September 9, 2009 IRS lien paid and released.
September 25, 2009 TS & Company LLC administratively dissolved by State of Florida for failure to file annual report.
October 5, 2009 TS & Company LLC reinstated.
February 16, 2010 RBC Bank writes to Dove and Jones, calling two mortgages on the church property (taken out by Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc.) and mortgages on Pineridge 3 and Phoenix 15 (taken out by the general partnership TS & Company). All four of these mortgages had been written by local Gainesville bank Millennium Bank, which subsequently came under the control of RBC Bank. RBC states that the mortgages are called because of a “material adverse event”.
March 25, 2010 County tax assessor meets with Dove World to discuss tax exempt status in relation to TS & Company activities.
April 7, 2010 Terry Jones appears on local Gainesville television news, showing the RBC Bank letter and claiming the bank is discriminating against them in response to the “Islam is of the devil” and “No homo mayor” campaigns. He states that the church needs to raise $140,000 by the end of April. Note that the mortgages on Pineridge 3 and Phoenix 15 add up to $141,932 at the times the loans were taken, but the two loans on the church property total $310,000 that appears to be outstanding. The total of $140,000 also is close to the sum of the $25,000 mortgage and the $113,885 that is claimed instead of $285,000 for the larger mortgage in the Dove Charismatic Ministries, Inc. 2006 Form 990 (pdf) filed with IRS.
August 12, 2010 Gainesville Sun announces that part of Dove site will go on the tax rolls.