Indictment Shows that Founders of Angel Food Ministries Benefited from Funding of Non-profit

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Joe and Linda Wingo started Angel Food Ministries 17 years ago with a simple idea: Buy food in bulk and sell it at a discount to families through a network of churches.
Joe Wingo started Monroe-based Angel Food Ministries 17 years ago.

The Monroe-based nonprofit eventually became wildly successful, selling almost 600,000 boxes of food a month in 45 states. In 2008, after obtaining more than $7 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture loans and grants, Angel Food was recognized by the White House as a model of collaboration between the government and faith-based initiatives.
But “Pastor Joe” and “Pastor Linda,” as they were called, also siphoned millions of dollars off their nonprofit food ministry — and spent the money to support a lavish lifestyle — a recent federal indictment alleges.
A review of the indictment by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provides new details about the case. It illuminates the couple’s spending sprees and paints a more compelling picture of how the case against the couple unfolded — and their attempts to cover up the allegations.
All of this has led those who worked with Angel Food to ask new questions — and to express their dismay that something that started out positively ended so badly.
“It really leaves you with an empty feeling and mixed emotions,” said the Rev. David Chancey, senior pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, whose church once handed out more than 100 food boxes a month.
According to the indictment, the Wingos used Angel Food funds to make a $280,000 down payment on a Beechjet 400A aircraft, make other down payments on real estate and buy a $65,000 classic car. And they took more than $1.48 million from the nonprofit by giving bonuses to themselves and to others, prosecutors say.
Other details offered in the indictment include a two-day spree in February 2006, when Joe Wingo dropped more than $5,000 at Bailey Banks & Biddle and Spa Sydell. Two months later, he spent more than $5,400 on jewelry at Macy’s. That same year, Linda Wingo spent more than $15,000 on clothing and home appliances.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution | Bill Rankin and Shelia M. Poole
spoole@ajc.com