Brownsville minister accepts plea deal in theft of charity money

A well-known Brownsville minister who stole more than $70,000 in taxpayer money has agreed to serve 10 years probation and pay restitution.

Rev. Larrie Lovett, minister at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Brownsville, took grant money from his nonprofit, the Brownsville Community Development Corp. He used it to pay for personal expenses — from rent on his Pembroke Pines home to car payments on his Lexus to a family vacation in Orlando.

Lovett, 49, pleaded no contest on Wednesday to a charge of second-degree grand theft.

The money came from the Children’s Trust, the organization that receives money from Miami-Dade County property taxes. From 2007 to 2009, the Trust steered about $1.7 million to the Brownsville CDC to coordinate violence-prevention programs for kids in the Brownsville and Liberty City neighborhoods.

The Miami-Dade Inspector General’s probe found that Lovett skimmed money by submitting phony invoices to the Children’s Trust.

In all, investigators believed Lovett took more than $112,000 through the Brownsville nonprofit, investigators said. But he was only charged with taking about $70,000, because the statute of limitations had lapsed on some older crimes.

Investigators found that Lovett spent about $53,000 of the money on personal expenses, including car payments, rent on his house, rental cars and expenses for personal trips to Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles and Tucson, records show.

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