Lawyer: Church doesn't yet have money to refund raffle tickets

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

The raffle for a home in the Oak Park neighborhood by a local church was canceled do to lack of ticket sales, according to

the attorney for the organization.

“It was a good idea that just didn’t pan out,” said Mark Judson.

Shiloh Baptist Church, through it’s

Project Community Care program, began the raffle for the $246,000 house

at 1601 21st St.

in September 2011. The original drawing was set for Jan. 14 but

was extended twice to Aug. 31 and then Sept. 7 before being

called off this week.

Judson said the organization sold approximately 120 tickets at $100 a piece.

“That’s just not near enough, so they (Shiloh Baptist Church) decided to cancel the raffle,” he said. “There was no way they

were going to raise enough money to pay off the financing and make is feasible for the sale to go through.”

Judson said the church does not have

the money made off of ticket sales because the funds were used for

“legitimate raffle-related

expenses.”

“It is legal for them to spend the money on raffle-related expenses,” he said. “The majority of the money was spent on media

purchases and other expenses associated with promoting the effort to sale raffle tickets. The church has not done anything

illegal or violated any laws or statues by failing to escrow the money.”

He said ticket purchasers should get a letter in the mail about the cancellation of the raffle and the church’s intention

to refund the money within 90 days.

“It is our hope and plan, not a

guarantee, to have sufficient funds available to refund the ticket

purchasers around the first

week of December,” Judson said. “I want to be very clear that the

church does not have the money escrowed sitting in a bank

account ready to be refunded, but they did not have a legal

obligation to do that. They are doing their best to have the funds

raised.”

Judson said he estimated the maximum funds needed is $12,000.

He is representing the church in a pro bono capacity.

In March, the church’s pastor, Barry

Thomas, was sentenced to two year in prison after pleading guilty to

second-degree battery.

According to reports at the time of the incident, Thomas and eight

other people were smoking crack in a mobile home in Moss

Bluff when he fired 14 shots into the home.

Judson said he wants to “emphasize that any criminal sentencing, criminal issues, criminal problems associated with Barry

Thomas are unrelated to the raffle.”

Judson said there have been no

allegations, complaints or inquiries of any misappropriation of funds or

illegal activity associated

with the raffling of the house.

The 3,000-square-foot house in under contract with Century 21 and is in the process of being sold.

Judson said ticket purchasers can contact him with questions or concerns at 436-3308.