Tithes that bind
A Granbury pastor and his wife who filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy while living in a leased half-million-dollar home used church offerings to make payments on personal credit cards and to pay for such things as a Louis Vuitton purse, sessions at a tanning salon and a vacation in Maui.
Last week a United States bankruptcy judge revoked the bankruptcy of Barry Tubbs Jr. and his now former wife Amy. They are the former pastor and worship leader, respectively, for The Way Church.
The couple divorced last November.
The Way became Center-Point Church last year after experiencing months of financial problems, according to two sources who did not want to be named. The Gran-bury church is one of three CenterPoint churches whose home base is in Benton, Arkansas. Barry Tubbs Jr. was an associate pastor at the Benton house of worship before he and his wife moved here 10 years ago with their three children.
As of press time Friday, Amy Tubbs’ Facebook page showed her to be the worship pastor at the Granbury CenterPoint.
According to court documents, she is living in a $270,000 home in Mallard Pointe. Her former husband is residing in Fort Worth.
Efforts to reach the two were unsuccessful before press time. CenterPoint Pastor Kevin Spencer declined to comment and referred the HCN to Senior Pastor Patrick Dezort at the Benton church. The HCN did not receive a return call before going to press.
The bankruptcy revocation followed what is known as a Rule 2004 examination hearing. Similar to a deposition, the hearings can be conducted due to bankruptcies that are complicated or in situations involving suspected fraud.
During that hearing, which occurred on May 22, the former spouses admitted to using offerings from their congregation intended for church use to fund their lifestyle.
Tubbs is the son of Barry Tubbs, an associate minister for Fort Worth televangelist and prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland.
Last March, Tubbs Jr. conducted an online fundraising campaign to buy his father a Jaguar for his 75th birthday. Those who wanted to donate by check were asked to make it payable to Barry Tubbs Jr.
The Rule 2004 hearing occurred two days after Inside Edition aired footage of Copeland defending his private jets to a camera crew that surprised him as tried to enter a Cadillac Escalade.
Copeland said that his planes, which are kept at an airport near his Tarrant County mansion and include a Gulfstream jet purchased from actor/filmmaker Tyler Perry, are necessary for his spreading of the gospel.
“It takes a lot of money to do what we do,” the 82-year-old said.
Like Copeland, Tubbs Jr., too, enjoys soaring above the masses. Nine days after his bankruptcy case was closed last year, he tweeted that he had obtained a PPL – a personal pilot license – thanks to the “very reasonable fees” offered through Pray Aviation, Inc.
His most recent tweet, on Feb. 28, was a statement given with no explanation: “What you try NOT to become, is the future that awaits you.”
‘INFORMED OF FACTS’
The bankruptcy petition for Barry Elwood Tubbs II and Amy Raynelle Tubbs was filed on Dec. 19, 2017 and discharged on May 1, 2018 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.
It was their second chapter 7 case. The first was in 2002 in the Eastern District of Arkansas. That case was discharged on March 21, 2003.
Problems arose with the more recent case in April of this year.
“After the discharge order was entered and after the case was closed, the United States Trustee first was informed of facts that might possibly lead to the filing of a complaint supporting the revocation of the Defendants’ discharge,” a complaint filed with the court by Region 6 Trustee William T. Neary of the U.S. Department of Justice states.
A voicemail message on Neary’s office phone Thursday informed callers that he was out of town. Callers were directed to assistant trustee Lisa Lambert. She did not return a phone message from the HCN before press time Friday morning.
An order granting the motion to reopen the case was filed on April 11.
Neary detailed in his complaint to the court that the Tubbses claimed in their Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs (SOFA) that they had two checking accounts at First Financial with a total balance of $300.
The couple checked “no” beside a question of whether they had closed any bank accounts within the past year and listed no contracts or leases, according to the trustee.
Barry Tubbs’ gross income was listed on the SOFA as $15,377 for 2016 and $15,507 for 2015. No income was listed for Amy for 2015 and 2016.
The couple asserted that they had almost $150,000 in unsecured debt.
Neary’s complaint stated that at a hearing on Jan. 23, 2018 when Barry and Amy testified under oath, they stated ‘no’ when asked whether they needed to make any changes or corrections to their bankruptcy paperwork.
According to the complaint, the couple failed to list any income for 2017 and were asked to disclose any income for that year.
“The SOFA was not amended” and a report of “no distribution” was filed, Neary’s complaint states.
A judge granted the federal government’s motion for re-examination.
Among documents the pair submitted prior to the revocation hearing were bank statements for The Way Church.
REVEALED IN THE HEARING
According to court records, the Rule 2004 hearing revealed that:
■ In the weeks before filing bankruptcy, Barry and Amy Tubbs closed four BBVA bank accounts.
The bank statements showed that the couple had received more income than what they had disclosed in their bankruptcy paperwork.
One account had monthly deposits between $6,500 and $24,000 between May and December of 2017.
■ The Tubbses received additional income described as “clergy housing.” Their joint 2017 tax return revealed that “clergy housing” had provided an additional income of more than $28,000.
■ Barry and Amy testified to using The Way’s “tithe account” for personal expenses that included $545 in September and October 2017 for a Maui vacation; tanning salon charges; nail salon charges; a $1,300 Louis Vuitton purse; and credit card payments.
■ Barry’s sale of a truck for more than $8,000 had not been disclosed;
■ The pair did not reveal that they had signed a $3,000-per-month lease on a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home in the 8800 block of Godley Road in Granbury just three days before filing for bankruptcy. The property includes a 9-stall horse barn.
Neary’s complaint noted that Barry and Amy committed themselves to a $3,000 monthly rent payment while claiming to have just $69.14 in net disposable income.
The document further states that the couple “acted fraudulently.”
The HCN reached out to Department of Justice trial attorneys Nancy Sue Resnick and Erin Schmidt to ask whether the Tubbses might face prosecution for bankruptcy fraud and whether there might be other charges as well.
They did not return phone messages by press time, and neither did attorney Eric Allen Maskell, who represented the Tubbses at the bankruptcy revocation hearing.
A former member and employee of The Way Church, who asked not to be named, said he had no idea that the Tubbses had taken church money.
“We were happy, we were healthy, we were growing,” he said of the days when he was a devoted member at that church.
The man said that he left both as a member and an employee in late summer of last year because the church was struggling financially and a job offer gave him a safe landing. He is now working at a different church in the area.
The former employee said that Barry Jr. did raise the money to buy Barry Sr. a Jaguar, but there were people all over the country who contributed.
“It seemed to be on the up-and-up,” he said.
The man stated that he attended “a couple of group meetings” at the house on Godley Road, which is valued at $572,400 on the Hood Central Appraisal District’s website.
Asked whether he had wondered how a couple in ministry could afford such a nice home with acreage, the former employee replied, “Absolutely.”
He added, “I thought somebody must have just really blessed them with a great lease.”
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