Morris Cerullo Seeks Absolution in Court of AppealsSAN DIEGO, Ca., Nov. 14, 2001/ John Paul Warren Case gives literal meaning to scripture verse, "...false prophets will appear and deceive many people."
Refer also to M Cerullo Court case
Morris Cerullo claims to be a miracle maker, but he is under investigation for being a money taker. John Paul Warren, a former Senior Executive with Morris Cerullo World Evangelism (MCWE) has filed a lawsuit claiming he was ousted from the MCWE organization after confronting Cerullo about "unethical and fraudulent fund-raising techniques." This is the second such lawsuit against Cerullo. Warren, who is a highly respected, third-generation, ordained Assemblies of God Minister, filed his suit in May of 2000 in San Diego County Superior Court. He is represented by attorneys Dean Broyles and Tim Rutherford of San Diego, and Hunter Lundy, based in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lundy successfully represented Marvin Gorman in his suit against televangelist Jimmy Swaggart in 1991, which resulted in a large verdict against Swaggart."
Cerullo refers to himself as `Dr. Cerullo,' although he does not have any degree earning him this title," says Lundy. "He runs MCWE from offices in San Diego, which he calls `mission control,' but he does not serve as the minister of any physical church or congregation." Cerullo raised millions of dollars and bought the defunct PTL Network, theme park and conference grounds from bankruptcy court after Televangelist Jim Bakker's career ended when he was convicted and sent to federal prison for fraud."
Cerullo purports to have first met God at the age of eight. Since then, his life has apparently been one unbelievable experience after another," says Lundy. "He says he was led out of a Jewish orphanage by two angelic beings; transported to heaven for a face- to-face meeting with God; has the ability to predict the future; can heal the sick; and has told audiences when they look at him they `are looking at God.' He also asks them to `give me your pocket books.' "
According to Broyles, Cerullo's primary focus is raising millions of dollars in the name of God to support his own personal lavish lifestyle both overseas and in the United States. He says, "The victims of Cerullo's tactics and the source of his millions are the elderly, widows and poor here in the United States as well as in distressed third world nations." Broyles says Cerullo's fundraising tactics include direct solicitations, prayer rallies, the sale of videotapes, prayer networks, television marketing and mail campaigns, among others, all of which are based upon misrepresentations and false promises.
Warren, who has first-hand knowledge of MCWE operations, says, "Cerullo made countless promises to his donors he never intended to keep. He would raise money for popular projects that would generate extraordinary donor support, then never do the project, but keep the money." Warren says shortly after moving to San Diego to assume the leadership of MCWE he discovered that Cerullo used the charitable status of MCWE to personally profit. "Cerullo merchandises the gospel for his own personal wealth," says Warren. Warren has asked Cerullo to repent for his deceptive fundraising practices and to return millions to his donors, but Cerullo refused.
Cerullo's son, David Cerullo, runs the former PTL Network, now known as the Inspiration (INSP) Network based in North Carolina, which serves as a primary medium for disseminating Cerullo's solicitation programs and generating names for future fundraising efforts. "Neither Cerullo's MCWE nor his Inspiration Network are financially accountable to any group," says Rutherford. "In fact, Cerullo, his son David and his wife Theresa are all members of MCWE's board of directors."
Warren's attorneys say their sources report 70% of Cerullo's income comes from profit-oriented business activities as opposed to the non-profit activities dictated by his tax- exempt status. "Cerullo lives in plush comfort in a multi-million dollar mansion behind two security gates on a luxurious estate in the exclusive Ranch Sante Fe neighbourhood, purported to be the richest neighbourhood in the country. MCWE owns and controls numerous business properties, several luxury automobiles and a gold-plated private jet. He is reported to have personally estimated his net worth at 100 million dollars. Does this sound like the lifestyle of a minister of the gospel?" asks Lundy.
Attorneys say trouble seems to be following Cerullo and his MCWE ministry.
By all accounts, the hearing went well for Cerullo's opponents. Cerullo himself was present with his wife to witness the proceedings. Rather than answer the charges, Cerullo is trying to hide behind the first amendment that states that ministers cannot go to court against one another. The Appeals court will give a ruling within the next 90 days.
John Paul Warren, Cerullo's antagonist, is determined that Cerullo be exposed to the Christian community for his actions. He says he tried for nearly two years to get Cerullo to submit to Church leadership for correction, but predictably Cerullo refused. He says he travelled with Cerullo throughout the world and witnessed his actions first hand. He asked Cerullo to return millions of dollars to the donors, but predictably Cerullo refused. So Warren felt he had no other choice but to take him to court.
I wonder whether those who have promoted Cerullo in the UK and around the world will now hang their heads in shame? We shall give them the opportunity to write in to apologise for their error, but failing any such letters, we shall start a Roll of Shame in the next CETF ... so watch this space!
Appeared in Issue CETF 7.2 January 2002