Preacher Pocketed Parcel Payment

Bethel Baptist Church Pastor Kevin Clark pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud after a parishioner gave the Westfield minister $183,038 from a real estate sale.

UNION COUNTY — A Westfield minister who pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud before Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim is scheduled sentencing for April 9, according to state Attorney General Paula T. Dow.

Kevin Clark, 53, the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Westfield, pleaded guilty last month to third-degree Medicaid fraud and third-degree tampering with public records.

The charges were contained in a superseding indictment handed down by a Union County grand jury in November.

Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison a fine of up to $15,000, according to Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor.

At the guilty plea hearing, Clark admitted that on Nov. 17, 2004, he knowingly and falsely completed, signed and submitted a Medicaid application on behalf of an elderly parishioner.

The Medicaid application required Clark to list any real estate sold by the parishioner and any cash given away by him within the past three years.

The minister admitted that he failed to list on the Medicaid application that the parishioner had sold a parcel of real property for $183,038, and that cash was given to Clark.

Detective Patricia Yellen and Deputy Attorney General Yvette Gibbons were assigned to the investigation. Gibbons represented the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli at the guilty plea hearing.

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