Bank sues Celebration Church founders for $716,000 in business debt

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the founders of Jacksonville Celebration Church are in class sued by a bank who says they owe about $716,000 on loans opened by businesses they run that aren’t paying their debts.

Stovall Weems and his wife, Kerri, were named co-accused when First Citizens Bank and Trust filed suit on Saturday against Honey Lake Farms Inc., Northstream Management Group LLC and Weems Group LLC.

The lawsuit included, as an exhibit, an agreement Stovall Weems signed in September guaranteeing repayment of a $500,000 loan to Honey Lake Farms.

It also featured a February 2021 guarantee from Kerri Weems that the bank would force her to repay debts on a pair of $50,000 credit card accounts for the Weems Group that were created last August.

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The 71-page lawsuit also said debts were owed on a $20,000 line of credit to Northstream, for which state records list the couple as governing members, plus a credit card account of $125,000 opened in July by Honey Lake Farms, a non-profit organization that was established years ago. there is church.

The church was not named as a party to the lawsuit.

Weems was on the nonprofit’s list of presidents when it filed an annual report with the state in April, even though he was suspended from his primary pastoral role with the church in January. , continued the church and then resigned. Church lawyers have since claimed that Weems “was committing a fraud, [and] enriching themselves unjustly” at his expense.

A bill collector working for the bank contacted last month seeking around $711,000, but the lawsuit said the accounts remained in default.

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The lawsuit argues that the Weems are each in breach of contract for failing to meet their individual money-back guarantees and that the companies have unjustly enriched themselves and owed money and interest to the bank.

A spokesman for Stovall Weems said Tuesday the pastor would not comment on the lawsuit.

The events of the trial appear to overlap with the actions described in a report that church lawyers prepared last month and described as a “fraudulent statement” of Honey Lake Farms finances by Stovall Weems, who had led the megachurch since 1998.

The bank’s $500,000 loan to Honey Lake Farms came just weeks after the church’s report claimed Stovall Weems applied for a loan on behalf of the nonprofit and falsely described a $1.4 million debt to the church as a debt the church owed to Honey. Lake Farms.

The church report says the bank’s loan officer “questioned the legitimacy of this entry” and “informed Celebration that the manipulation of financial statements in connection with a loan application was extremely serious and inappropriate”.

The report says the pastor ordered the church’s accounting staff to write off the debt.

The Weems and the church remain locked in a separate lawsuit over Stovall Weems’ suspension. A hearing is scheduled for next week on the church’s motion to dismiss the case.

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