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Burned church rebuilding fraud puts suspect in shackles

INDIANAPOLIS – An investor has been charged with defrauding an Indianapolis church of nearly $400,000 that it gave him as it tried to raise more money to rebuild after a fire.

Arman Gasparian, the owner of Indianapolis-based GMA Capital, told leaders of Bell’s Chapel Church he would use $365,000 as earnest money to obtain a $3 million private grant toward replacing the church building destroyed in a 2008 fire, according to court documents.

The counts of mail fraud and wire fraud allege that Gasparian put the money into his own bank accounts, took double the $35,000 fee he disclosed to church officials and paid much of the remainder of the money to associates.

Gasparian made an initial appearance Wednesday in federal court on the charges. Defense attorney Mike Donahoe declined to comment Thursday to The Associated Press.

Rev. Adrienne Holmes, the church’s pastor, said the congregation on the city’s east side still needed the money that came from its $1.3 insurance settlement to finish rebuilding work.

“It did me good to see him coming in court in shackles. It made my day,” Holmes told WRTV (http://bit.ly/Uxywff ). “God is getting his vengeance.”

Holmes said the church needed to complete plumbing, heating and electrical work on its gym to open it up for children in the low-income neighborhood.

“I believe,” she said. “I have my faith, and that’s what I am standing on – my faith.”

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