Healing Place Church founder Dino Rizzo has stepped down from his job as pastor claiming need of a sabbatical.
Yesterday, I reported the story here but since the writing of that story, more church leaders have come forward to confirm the already existing allegations. What The Advocate isn’t telling you, is that Dino Rizzo and a former intern Kaycee Morgan Smith allegedly had an affair, according to reports from church leaders who were told this in a meeting Sunday. Leaders were duped into thinking Dino would admit his affair on Sunday to the church; however, Dino never read a statement according to sources. Instead leaders believe Dino provided a smokescreen to cover up the scandal and his leadership followed suit.
The Advocate reported tha he said this:
“We feel it is best that we step down as pastors today,” Dino Rizzo told several thousand church members gathered in the spacious arena sanctuary during the first of two Sunday morning services.
DeLynn Rizzo stood next to her husband while he addressed the church members.
“We feel God is moving us into a new season,” he said without disclosing what future plans the couple might have.
“Our hearts are forever marked by your faith, your love and your generosity,” Dino Rizzo told the silent crowd.
If reports are correct, then why did Dino lie to his church congregation? What does Dino have to lose by outing himself and coming clean? A lot of money, it seems. Money the IRS may or may not know about, since some of the non-profit corporations in Dino’s name are not in good standing for failure to file an annual report.
Dino Rizzo is listed as Director, Treasurer, and Vice-President (and other titles) to sixteen different organizations.
Screen shot from the Secretary of State’s website September 18th, 2012 (10 am)
The first corporation on the list is listed as “not in good standing for failure to file an annual report” according to the Secretary of State’s website.
One of Dino Rizzo’s ministries
What Healing Place church members don’t know is that Dino Rizzo is still listed as an officer. According to the Secretary of State’s site, there have been no amendments to any of the non-profits listed removing Dino or DeLynn Rizzo. In fact, no changes have been made since 2009. If Dino had really resigned, wouldn’t he have been removed from HPC and the ministries entirely?
It appears that Dino is still legally tied to Healing Place Church and the fifteen other non-profit corporations. What we don’t know is how much money is there? If church members or the public were interested in knowing, they might tackle this by going to the IRS and filing a whistleblower claim. It pays well, according to a New York Times article, one whistleblower earned a $104 million dollar reward. Another option for former interns would be to consult a lawyer about HPC’s promise of ministry training and a possible violation of Quid Pro Quo Contributions. Interns in HPC’s School of Ministry get tangible benefits from their “donations” to the church. This means they aren’t really donations at all.
History repeats itself. There was another infamous minister whose world came crashing down over a sex affair, and in a bit of irony, he was also attached to the Los Angeles Dream Center. His name is Jim Bakker. It took a woman named Jessica Hahn’s allegations of Jim raping her for the ministry to start unraveling. According to Wikipedia,
Following a 16-month Federal grand jury probe, Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, the jury found him guilty on all 24 counts, and Judge Robert Potter sentenced him to 45 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.
The New York Times says this: “Judge Potter’s defenders cite a presentence memo in which prosecutors assert that Mr. Bakker actually used fraudulent appeals to raise $158 million.”
A non-profit called PRC Compassion is also something to look into, since federal funds were given to the non-profit corporation for Hurricane Katrina relief. One wonders how much of the federal funds were actually given to those in need and how much was put in the pockets of the officers: Gene Mills, Dino Rizzo and Daniel Jones (all large ministry leaders).
With Bakker, it wasn’t just an affair. Could it be the same with Dino Rizzo? I have a feeling once I post this, HPC will begin to do a quick cover up and destroy any documents that the IRS would need. My advice to HPC or ARC leaders or members who read this is to come clean. Don’t cover up the scandal. You owe your parishioners honesty at the very least. Not to mention, withholding crucial information from federal investigators is fraud as former Banker, Bradley C. Birkenfeld learned:
During the investigation Mr. Birkenfeld was charged with fraud for withholding crucial information from federal investigators, including details of his top client, the property developer Igor Olenicoff. Mr. Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months in prison, and was released early on Aug. 1.
More on the Dino Rizzo affair and resignation: