Pastor Raymond Vliet entered a guilty plea Wednesday after being arrested earlier this month on felony charges by the Elder Abuse Task Force of Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.
Posted on July 29, 2019
BY MIKE KILLBREATH
CCN Executive Editor
Mt. Morris Twp. pastor pleads guilty to 5-year felony on embezzlement case against elderly church member
FLINT (CCN) — A Flushing man who is the pastor at a Mt. Morris Township church pleaded guilty to a felony case Wednesday that could land him behind bars for up to five years.
Pastor Raymond Vliet reached a plea deal with the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office to avoid a preliminary exam Wednesday in front of Genesee County 67th District Court Judge Mark McCabe. He is now scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 20 by Genesee County Circuit Court Judge David Newblatt for a felony charge of attempted embezzlement from a vulnerable adult for more than $20,000 but less than $50,000.
Assistant Prosecutor David Mayes told Judge McCabe that the plea deal would include dropping a 20-year felony embezzlement from a vulnerable adult for more than $20,000 but less than $50,000, as well as dropping a second felony count for stealing and also not pursuing charges on an additional warrant request packet filed this week by the Genesee County Sheriff's Department for an identical felony case on a second elderly victim. Restitution would be determined by Judge Newblatt at the Sept 20 sentencing.
Judge McCabe allowed Pastor Vliet to remain free on a $55,000 bond he posted after his arrest earlier this month by the Genesee County Sheriff's Department Elder Abuse Task Force. An interview with Sheriff Pickell about the investigation by his elder abuse team will be presented on Thursday's Morning Gazette Radio Show. You can listen live at 8 am by clicking to CCN Radio.
A preliminary exam had been adjourned on July 17 because the victim was out of town on vacation.
Judge McCabe allowed all four TV stations in Genesee County to film the July 17 proceedings against the pastor of Old Beth-El General Baptist Church in Mt. Morris Township. Two TV stations returned for Wednesday's court date, but both left while Assistant Prosecutor Mayes negotiated the plea deal until after 1 pm. The preliminary exam had been scheduled to begin at 10 am.
"Using God to prey on an elderly person, he's headed to Hell as far as I'm concerned," Sheriff Pickell said during a press conference at his office during the same time that Pastor Vliet faced the judge on July 17 at Central District Court in Downtown Flint. He credited an Elga Credit Union loan officer with being a hero for alerting his Elder Abuse Task Force after becoming suspicious, according to the Sheriff, after Pastor Vleit attempted to get loans to buy a new boat and purchase a new Jeep to pull it.
"The loan officer rejected the loan, but he went to another bank and got it," Sheriff Pickell said. "He couldn't get a loan in his own name because his credit was poor, so he had power of attorney over this elderly couple in his church and he was trying to get the loans in their name. We discovered that after the woman had died, Vliet moved into their house. He also cashed in a life insurance policy and used it for vacations and trips to the casino. The loan officer noticed in his folder of papers that he had other power of attorney documents and that made the loan officer suspicious."
Defense attorney Fred Meiers didn't return a call asking for a comment about the case. He represented Pastor Vliet as a court-appointed attorney.
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