Plea bargain ends case against Arundel ministers

Agreement will return some money to church

March 09, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Criminal prosecution of a father-son minister team accused of stealing from their Glen Burnie congregation ended abruptly yesterday in a plea agreement that returns thousands of dollars to the church.

The agreement also will settle two pending civil cases between trustees of Calvary Temple of Glen Burnie and defendants the Rev. Bertram Hare and his son, the Rev. Darryl Hare.

The elder Hare was charged with forgery, operating a theft scheme and passing forged documents, and his son faced similar charges.

As the fourth day of the trial was about to begin before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Pamela L. North, Darryl Hare pleaded guilty to operating a felony theft scheme. The agreement gave him a three-year suspended sentence and three years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to repay the church $80,000 within six months, said Assistant State's Attorney Clifford Stoddard Jr.

Charges against Bertram Hare were dropped.

"They took advantage of their positions. They betrayed the trust of the congregation," Stoddard said.

Calvary attorney James D. Barton said the restitution figure would not recover what church officials believed they lost, but described the compromise as a "satisfactory conclusion."

The Hares' attorney, William M. Ferris, said his clients agreed to the plea and deal to avoid the risks of the criminal trial and litigation.

Bertram Hare was accused of falsifying documents to authorize sale of the church parsonage, with proceeds going to buy a home for his son, as well as taking other money.

Darryl Hare, who ran the church's school, was accused of writing himself thousands of dollars in checks from the school, now called the Old Mill Christian Academy, and many of the checks were exhibits at the trial.

Under an agreement between Calvary and Bertram Hare, the equity in the parsonage was to go to him upon retirement, so he would have gotten the money anyway, Stoddard said.

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