Former Baptist Missionary Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud
RICHMOND, VA—Brady Nurse, 38, of Bothell, Washington, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with the fraudulent reimbursement of expense invoices while he served as a Baptist missionary in Portugal.
Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Richmond Division, made the announcement after the guilty plea was accepted by United States Magistrate Judge David J. Novak. Nurse faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and full restitution when he is sentenced on January 21, 2015, by United States District Judge James R. Spencer.
In a statement of facts filed in support of his plea agreement, Nurse admitted that from 2008 to 2013, while working in Portugal as a Baptist missionary for the International Mission Board (“IMB”), he fraudulently obtained $285,412.73 through 135 fraudulent reimbursement requests. The IMB is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, with more than 40,000 churches and nearly 16 million members. It is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The IMB is dedicated to evangelizing around the world with approximately 4,800 missionaries worldwide.
Nurse acknowledged that in 2006, he was appointed to Apprentice status (missionary) by the IMB, and assigned to Lisbon, Portugal. In 2009, he was approved for Career status. Nurse served as the Logistics Coordinator (“LC”) in Portugal, responsible for ensuring the payment of certain expenses for himself, other missionaries, and the IMB overall while overseas. He was also responsible for the financial support activities for IMB field personnel assigned to Portugal. As a Logistics Coordinator, Nurse was paid on an as-needed basis, for field personnel housing, car maintenance, applicable taxes, and major purchases.
IMB LC’s located overseas conducted business from both IMB bank accounts and personal accounts. Nurse acknowledged that when an authorized expense was incurred, he would prepare a request for reimbursement, supported by appropriate documentation. He would then submit the reimbursement request by wire transfer/e-mail from Portugal to the IMB offices in London, U.K., which were then routed to IMB offices in Richmond, Virginia. Once the reimbursement requests were approved by the IMB, Nurse was paid by electronic funds transfers to his overseas bank account through on line banking from a Richmond, Virginia. The internal auditing and control staff of the IMB initially detected, and then determined the extent of Nurse’s fraudulent scheme, subsequently reporting it to the F.B.I.
Nurse admitted using a variety of techniques to submit for, and fraudulently receive, funds from IMB. For instance, he increased amounts on valid documents/invoices submitted on expense reports to fraudulently increase his reimbursement; submitted fraudulent, manufactured, and/or duplicated documentation on expense reports for reimbursement; submitted inadequate documentation, such as quotes and estimates for services to be performed by vendors rather than actual paid invoices, but falsely represented them as services actually provided; altered documentation; and was reimbursed for non-reimbursable expenses such as a jewelry purchase disguised as vehicle painting.
On January 30, 2014, Nurse officially resigned from IMB.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney S. David Schiller is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:14-cr-138.