Miami Pastor Charged with Defrauding an Elderly Man
Miami pastor and businessman Eric Readon has been arrested and charged with taking the home of an elderly man under the guise of helping him finish a construction project on the house.
According to the State Attorney General’s Office, Readon, whose Facebook page says he is pastor at Miami’s New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church, defrauded Edward Fuller, 76, of $267,000, including credit card debt.
“There is something particularly galling when an alleged fraudster snatches away the very hopes and dreams of one of our senior residents,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Readon allegedly told Edward Fuller, 76, that for a $15,000 fee, he would help him get a loan to finish renovations on his home. He told Fuller he could repay the fee by obtaining a mortgage once repairs were complete.
He then had Fuller sign a quit-claim deed transferring 50% ownership of his property to Project Youth Outreach Unlimited, a not-for-profit corporation owned by Readon, telling him it was necessary to obtain the loan. Fuller signed the deed because he believed in the “representations of someone [he] saw as a man of God,” the Attorney General’s Office said.
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Readon promised to relinquish full ownership of the home to Fuller when the project was completed. However, after a series of back-and-forth property deed transfers, construction loans, modifications, mortgages, and credit card advances that the AG’s Office said were “all designed to confuse and deceive” the older man, Readon took full possession of the property then sold it without Fuller’s permission.
Readon also allegedly promised the home to a married couple in a rent-to-own arrangement, taking $3,100 from them.
Readon has been charged with five felony counts, including exploitation of an elderly or disabled person, grand theft, and conspiracy to commit an organized scheme to defraud.
“It is truly disgraceful when someone tries to scam our most vulnerable citizens, especially when that someone promotes himself as a person in a position of public trust,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent-in-Charge Troy Walker. “Elderly exploitation has no place in our communities.”
In August of 2021, The Florida Supreme Court declined to hear a $50 million lawsuit Readon brought against a Miami-area television station in 2017 claiming he was defamed by broadcast reports about his business dealings.
WPLG aired the investigative series after several people told the station they had loaned Readon cash to rent homes, buy cars, and finance church events and were unable to get their money back. His deal with Fuller was among the situations discussed.
Readon was referred to as a pastor and community leader in the broadcasts, but his attorney said that since Readon was not conducting business in his capacity as a pastor, WPLG should not have referred to him as one, although he used the church address as his business address.
Readon was ordered to pay $70,000 in damages to the station in that case.