Maryland Pastor Charged with Social Security Theft and Tax Fraud

Monday, February 6, 2012
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The pastor of a church near North East is facing tax fraud and theft charges after an investigation by police and a federal agency, prosecutors confirmed over the weekend.

Woodrow John Fannin, 63, of the unit block of Indian Road near North East, is charged with theft scheme to steal more than $10,000 and less than $100,000 and willfully filing a false tax return, according to Cecil County Circuit Court records.

The Cecil County State's Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Fannin by way of criminal information on Friday, court records show. Fannin was not arrested but, rather, was issued a criminal summons.

Fannin is the pastor at North East Faith Tabernacle at 2256 West Pulaski Highway.

The prosecutor assigned to the criminal case, Assistant State's Attorney Steven L. Trostle, declined to confirm or deny if the charges against Fannin relate to the Faith Tabernacle.

Prosecutors filed the charges against Fannin at the end of a nearly yearlong investigation by the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration and the Maryland State Police, according to Trostle.

Although a singular charge, the tax fraud count relates to three consecutive years in which Fannin, in some way, willfully filed false tax returns, Trostle said, adding that his offenses took place within the past four or five years.

"There are two ways you can be charged with willfully filing a false tax return. There is a failure to report income or taking deductions that you're not entitled to," Trostle said.

Trostle declined to elaborate on the tax fraud charge against Fannin, citing the pending court case.

The theft charge, meanwhile, involves Fannin allegedly taking or claiming Social Security benefits of which he wasn't entitled, Trostle said.

The theft charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison while the tax fraud offense carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

Trostle delivered the charging document to Fannin's lawyer, C. Thomas Brown of Elkton, on Friday. Brown could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Fannin is scheduled to appear for an arraignment on Feb. 21.


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