The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ (ICGJC) is one of the biggest Black Hebrew Israelite groups in the United States.
It has been fueled by an enthusiastic membership making mandatory monthly tithes with the impression that the money would be used for the “Church.” Instead, the United States Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey is alleging that the group’s leader, Jermaine Grant aka Chief High Priest Tazadaqyah, and the group’s director, vice president and treasurer, Lincoln Warrington, diverted over $2 million from the groups coffers to other ventures, including the leaders’ luxury household expenses. It is also alleged that they did not report over $5 million in income to the IRS.
This occurred over a nine-year period, from 2009 through 2017.
Grant and Warrington were taken into custody last Wednesday. This was after an exhaustive investigation by the FBI and IRS. The group’s headquarters in Harlem was raided by law enforcement on November 3, 2016.
The indictment states that Grant and Warrington created a for-profit company called Black Icon Entertainment (BIE), which was used to make Grant, a former music producer and restauranteur, look wealthier and more successful than he was and to siphon money from ICGJC to BIE. Some of the money, over $2 million went directly to Grant’s pocket. Another $1.35 million went to pay for BIE’s operating expenses, although “BIE virtually conducted no legitimate business” according to the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office.
It is also alleged that Grant and Warrington took money straight from ICGJC which paid for properties, luxury cars, clothing and home furnishings for the Grant family, private school for the Grant children, as well as a personal chauffeur, and a Disney vacation.
One property was a home in New Jersey, which Grant rented out to a co-conspirator, keeping the proceeds totaling $65,600 for himself.
Many of the purchases and payments associated with Grant’s schemes were made by associates in order to conceal his own personal ownership. As a result, he evaded paying income tax on his ill-gotten gains.
Former members who did not leave on good terms have alleged financial irregularities since at least 2015. One former member who was in ICGJC for 15 years has said that she paid 20 percent of her salary to ICGJC, plus $420 per year for High Holy Day costs, at least $60 in the summer for an event, plus the costs of custom garments and donations she made to ICGJC fundraisers. These expenditures, for one member, add up to over $140,000.
Grant and Warrington are currently charged with one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Grant is charged with an additional five counts of tax evasion.