Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Atlanta Youth Pastor Accused of Stealing $20,000

Posted by Richard Lawson | Oct 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

William Townsend, a youth pastor as well as an office manager, was arrested for allegedly stealing $20,000 in rent money from tenants at the Greenwood at Marketplace Apartments. According to reports, he stole money from tenants' accounts by altering money orders so the money went to him instead of the complex.

Police report that the money has since been re-credited to their accounts.

Townsend is currently facing charges of swindling and theft by conversion.

Theft by Conversion

The Georgia Code defines Theft by Conversion in Georgia as:

A person commits the crime of theft by conversion when, having lawfully obtained funds or other property of another including, but not limited to, leased or rented personal property, under an agreement or other known legal obligation to make a specified application of such funds or a specific disposition of such property, he knowingly converts the funds or property to his own use in violation of the agreement or legal obligation.  O.C.G.A. §16-8-4.

To be convicted of theft by conversion, the State must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the crime. 

As with other theft crimes, such as Georgia Theft by Taking or Georgia Theft by Receiving, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the money or property stolen. 

If the property stolen is valued at less than $500, then you will be charged with misdemeanor theft by conversion. The penalty for a misdemeanor charge of theft by conversion includes a fine of no more than $1,000 and a sentence of no more than 12 months confinement.

If the money or property is assessed at more than $500, you will likely be facing felony charges. A judge has the discretion to deem a crime a misdemeanor, even if it the money or property converted was over $500. The penalty for a felony charge of theft by conversion comes with a prison term of no less than one year and no more than ten years.

Practice Note

As an Atlanta Criminal Lawyer, I always try to point out that just because someone has been accused of committing a crime or has been arrested for committing a crime - it does not mean that they are guilty of committing that criminal offense. 

Townsend has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are plenty of Georgia Criminal Defenses that can apply in a case like this if it is a wrongful accusation. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested in the Metro Atlanta area, contact us today. You need experienced and specialized representation by an Atlanta Criminal Attorney.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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