Aurora pastor indicted on witness harassment charge
By Dan Campana For The Beacon-News December 20, 2012 4:10PM
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:28AM
WHEATON — A DuPage County grand jury has returned new indictments alleging witness harassment against Howard Richmond, the former pastor of Aurora’s Life Reach Ministries.
Richmond, 52, of Naperville, was first accused in 2010 of bilking members of his storefront church near Westfield Fox Valley Mall out of $459,000.
Earlier this year, prosecutors charged him with deceptive practice alleging he used a similar scheme — showing fake bank statements indicating accounts with large balances — to borrow money to cover overdue rent on the church’s space. Richmond’s check to the property owner bounced, leading the church to be evicted from the space.
The latest indictments issued this month accuse Richmond of twice talking with a woman who cooperated with authorities investigating the deceptive practice case.
Richmond met with the woman, who shares the same last name, in June asking her “three times if she loved him” and “why she had spoken with law enforcement” instead of denying she knew anything, court documents show. Richmond contacted the woman again in August, telling her they both would go to jail if she didn’t write a letter recanting her information about the case, according to the indictment.
The woman is the same person referenced in an earlier three-count indictment against Richmond in September which accused him of unlawful restraint and improperly communicating and detaining a witness. Those charges, which Richmond has formally denied, also stem from the June incident, records show.
Richmond, who is free on bond, returns to court Jan. 23, 2013, when a trial date is expected to be set in one of the three pending felony cases. Two previous trial dates for the 2010 theft case were postponed after new allegations surfaced and when he switched attorneys.
Life Reach Ministries’ website continues to state the church is moving to a new location and lists a Naperville PO box for anyone seeking to make a donation.