Two South Valley pastors accused of stealing thousands from followers
VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Bobby and Lynette "JoJo" Adamson have bailed out of jail tonight, but are accused of taking money from members of their Visalia church.
Members thought they were giving the money for short term, low risk ventures.
The Sound Of His Voice Christian Fellowship Church is now for sale. It's the place many people, like Teri Markarian first met Bobby and JoJo Adamson.
Teri Markarian, church member, said, "I went there with a girlfriend, we loved the way the pastor preached, we loved the whole atmosphere, the people there, and I just stuck there."
She says Bobby was a charismatic preacher and his wife JoJo became an encouraging and supportive friend. Markarian became the children's pastor and was very involved in the church when her husband of 30 years was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancers.
Around the same time, Markarian says the pastors gave some parishioners an opportunity, to make a short term, low risk investment.
Markarian says she took out a home equity line of credit for $100,000. She says she was confident she would receive her investment back, plus close to 20 percent in interest.
"At the time, I didn't understand what the real estate, the investment properties of it were all about. I had never done an investment before. But it was investing in I believe real estate," Markarian said.
She wasn't the only church member who bought in. Other parishioners said they felt comfortable handing over that much money since JoJo had a real estate license and the couple seemed successful.
They owned a home in the upscale community called The Lakes and drove luxury cars.
One family gave $200,000, which was their daughter's college fund. After a few months, the payments that were promised stopped coming.
The complaints against Bobby and JoJo Adamson are growing in bankruptcy court. The Adamsons moved to Texas and started a new church there. But late last year, the couple filed for bankruptcy in California. They listed their liabilities as $2.9 million.
Markarian lost her husband and shortly after their home went into foreclosure. She never had the heart to tell him as he died, the investment they made would leave her with no financial security. Today she lives with her sons and owns only her car.
"I will never own another home, I will never get back to the financial security I had," Markarian said.
Even after all the loss, Markarian says she forgives the Adamsons and feels they are suffering, too.
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