When the front page headline is ‘Pastor, Wife Face Trial In Theft Case’ , and both their mugshots on display, you are being set up to immediately accuse them both. Why bother reading the article? 

If you decide to read the article, you’re going to walk away convinced these are two disgusting individuals deserving the full extent of the law. 

If you’re like me, you see the story isn’t as bad as it seems in a criminal sense. But, in a human sense, it’s another case of how crimes of money becomes more important than how we deal with people. Read on so I can make it plain.

Here’s what’s going on.

Pastor Collins and wife run a church and a side business (Pinnacle) where they provide housing and care for people who can’t care for themselves. About $109,000 from Pinnacle is floating around unaccounted for. It’s assumed the Collins pocketed this money.

As both Collins’ attorneys and the assistant District Attorney claims, there’s a lot of bad accounting going on with the Collins family. They’re writing checks and taking money out the ATM and not keeping an accurate paper trail that proves where the money was spent. 

As a result, they are facing 12 counts each of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and receiving stolen property, all felonies of the third degree, as well as six misdemeanor theft counts and three felony conspiracy counts. Co-defendant Gloria F. Byars, sister of Carolyn Collins, is facing 763 counts in the alleged scheme. (Let’s hope that 763 number was a typo by the local paper).

Because their business is overseen by the Delaware County Orphans Court, they have to account for how money is spent. As Collins’ attorneys states…

Enrique Latoison, representing Keith Collings, further argued that Pinnacle could have filed allowance petitions with the court for (money) it was rightly entitled to, but the absence of any such petitions for any transactions indicates mere incompetence, not intent to defraud.

Mike Dugan, representing Carolyn Collins, argued his client was similarly only guilty of “bad bookkeeping,” as she had admitted to investigators, but said there was no intent to defraud here.

In other words, they argues the Collins didn’t managing the money right.

The assistant DA also argues the Collins was bad at bookkeeping…

Assistant DA Rhoades said this was not a case involving one missing ATM receipt, but a pattern of repeated conduct across numerous victims. He threw the lack of evidence about where the money was back at the defense, arguing that if it was used for the wards, Pinnacle should be able to show as much with records and receipts.

Does he hear himself? He’s saying they’re bad at managing money but to prove they did the right thing with the money they should prove it with their bad money management records.

What we see here with the Collins is the crime of bad bookkeeping. Truly, we should all agree that this is a crime. However, there’s a couple other factors in the article worth considering.

Dugan noted the commonwealth could not show where the money from the alleged thefts actually went. Detective Ruggieri did not identify any lavish expenses or trips the couple took as evidence they had spent the funds on themselves. Dugan said this indicated the funds were, in fact, used to the benefit of the wards in Pinnacle’s care.

So, what Mrs. Collins’ attorney is saying is the money that appears to be unaccounted for isn’t traced to a pair of new Teslas in the driveway or vacation photos from a Turks and Caicos all inclusive villa. If it was deposited in some bank account we sure would be reading about it today. We really don’t know where the money went. 

But, what we do know because of omission, the people they were charged with taking care of are just fine. None of the elderly or incapacitate people in their care were abused or neglected. How do we know this…because it would be a part of the case against the Collins.

That’s why I say this is a case of where money rules people. The Collins are being dragged through the legal system because they messed up the money. There’s no real evidence that I read here they did anything crazy or selfish with the money. They may have indeed spent the money on the people they care for. 

What’s conspicuously missing in the article is no indication how the people the Collins company cared for are doing? Is it because they’re doing okay? And if so, can we give them credit for caring for the sick and elderly in a professional and humane fashion?

I hate to bring up this comparison, but I must. For those who may have forgotten the name St. Rep. Movita Johnson in Philadelphia, look her up. She allegedly stole $500,000 from a business very similar to what the Collins are running. It was proven she was going on vacation, buying designer clothes, paying taxes, and paying her grandbaby’s tuition with the money. The people in her company’s care were being neglected and virtually abused by the squalor they were left to live in as a result of her neglect, greed, and ignorance. 

She got 1 to 2 years, a couple years probation, and was let out early on good behavior. If Movita, with all her mess, got off that easy, the Collins’ punishment should be whole lot less. 

I support Keith Collins!