Ohio Megachurch Swindles Elderly, Mentally Ill Woman Out of Thousands of Dollars

A megachurch in Ohio is accused of coercing an elderly woman to hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars, CBS Chicago reports. The woman is mentally ill and has dementia. She is now under the care of the Cook County public guardian, who is fighting to reclaim her life-savings.

Bridget Pollard, 76, has lived by herself since her husband died in 2015. The childless woman lived in hoarding conditions and blocked relatives’ efforts to help her, Pollard’s niece Bridget Johnson says.

Her niece says that Pollard emptied out her late husband’s state pension, and it wasn’t long before she wrote a $340,000 check, payable to Grace Cathedral. The megachurch in Akron, Ohio, televises the ministry of Rev. Ernest Angley.

“She was basically stalked by the church to give money,” Dawn Lawkowski-Keller of the Public Guardian’s Office says. “The literature talks about how you’ll go to heaven if you give this money.”

The public guardian’s office is now suing the church for every penny taken.

According to her niece, Pollard hadn’t been to the church in many years and visited only a handful of times, once for her baptism. She stayed connected through a singer at the church, Corliss Whitney, who is named in the Public Guardian lawsuit.

“Miss Whitney became her power of attorney. She tried to petition to become her guardian, which is very unusual,” says Lawkowski-Keller says. “She never once tried to remove her from that bad situation.”

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