A federal appeals court has upheld the tax fraud convictions of Anthony and Harriet Jinwright, the husband-wife team who once co-pastored Greater Salem Church in West Charlotte.
The Jinwrights were convicted in May 2010 for failing to report nearly $2.5 million in taxable income between 2001 and 2007. Anthony Jinwright was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison; Harriet Jinwright received six years and eight months.
Government prosecutors presented evidence that the Jinwrights were told multiple times by various sources that all money received from the church should be claimed as income on their tax returns.
“To allow the most clever, inventive, and sophisticated wrongdoers to hide behind a constant and conscious purpose of avoiding knowledge of criminal misconduct would be an injustice in its own right,” the appeals court wrote.
According to an IRS agent who testified during the Jinwrights’ trial, Greater Salem paid Anthony Jinwright nearly $3.9 million between 2001 and 2007. It paid Harriet Jinwright nearly $1 million during those same years. The couple also earned tens of thousands of dollars from speaking at other churches.
Witnesses testified that Greater Salem spent lavishly to support the Jinwrights, paying for costs such as luxury cars, vacations and college tuition for the couple’s daughter. The church eventually sought bankruptcy protection to avoid a foreclosure sale after defaulting on a $5 million loan.