A man with Macon ties has sued Reaching Souls Cathedral of Praise Apostolic Church for non-payment of a more than $2 million loan.
Bertram H. Witham Jr., a 94-year-old former IBM treasurer and retired Air Force colonel, lent the money as a way of helping his maid, who attended the church, said David Hollingsworth, a Macon lawyer.
The churchs pastor, Onslow Ross, signed the promissory note for $2,647,372 on May 1, 2008, according to the lawsuit. The money was to be used to build a new church.
The church has defaulted on the loan, and as of Dec. 31 it owed $5,537,687 in principal and interest, according to the complaint, filed in Bibb County Superior Court last week.
A church representative declined comment on the suit Monday.
The church sanctuary building, located at 5555 Bethesda Ave., was destroyed in a January fire. Firefighters ruled the fire an arson after finding a petroleum-based accelerant. The fire started in multiple locations.
Ross was convicted of 54 counts of various financial crimes in March 2008 stemming from the misuse of a $389,000 insurance check. The church had received the money after a sanctuary roof collapsed in 2005.
Ross was sentenced to 130 months in federal prison on June 3, about a month after he signed the promissory note.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.