LAUDERHILL, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a former pastor on multiple charges after a nearly one-year investigation.

On Wednesday, agents with the department arrested James Edward Smith II in Lauderhill after their examination concluded that he was committing crimes involving a Pompano Beach church.

In April of 2022, investigators began looking into Smith, who was the pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, after complaints from parishioners and church founders accusing the 49-year-old of gaining control over the church and church funds illegally.

FDLE agents found that Smith filed a forged quit claim deed that allowed him to control the church property and then sold it for $600,000 to use the money for his drug habit.

After Smith was arrested, police searched his residence and found heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and a stolen firearm.

He was charged with organized scheme to defraud, fraud, grand theft, criminal use of personal identification information, unlawful filing of false document records against real or personal property, grand theft of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and violation of probation.

In connection to the investigation, Smith was also charged by the Broward Sheriff’s Office for larceny and fraud associated with worthless checks totaling more than $1,600 written on the church’s bank account.

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