A Maryland minister who has founded several churches was sentenced to more than two years in prison Monday for obstructing bankruptcy court proceedings.
Robert "Dr. Shine" Freeman, 56, of Indian Head, who founded Save the Seed Ministry, Save the Seed International Church and Seed Faith International Church, hid millions of dollars in assets when he filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in 2005.
“The evidence shows that Robert J. Freeman lived a life of fraud and deception, using millions of dollars from church members and fraudulently obtained credit to pay for luxury cars and a mansion while falsely representing in court that he was indigent,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office:
Shortly after February 2001, Freeman used funds from church members to accumulate substantial assets, including 11 luxury cars valued at over $1,073,000 and a $1.75 million residence in Indian Head, Maryland, which he concealed from the bankruptcy court when he sought a discharge of his debts from the court in
More specifically, from 2002 to 2006, Freeman caused two Lincoln Town cars, two Mercedes Benz cars, two Volkswagon Phaetons, a Bentley Arnage vehicle and a $1.75 million residence on the Potomac River to be purchased in the names of church members. The Maryland residence, located in Indian Head, comprised about 9,000 square feet, with a deep water pier, a 20,000 pound covered boat lift, a jet ski lift, two four car garages, five fireplaces and a gym with steam room. Freeman also caused a Maybach vehicle to be leased in the name of a church member.
By October 2005, Freeman and his then-spouse owed over $1.3 million in debts, including $846,000 in back rent; more than $87,000 in lease payments on a jet airplane; over $160,000 for payments on musical instruments; and $220,000 in loan payments on a bus.
Freeman did not fully disclose to bankruptcy court his real or personal property nor that owned by another but controlled by Freeman, including the Indian Head residence and the luxury vehicles purchased with church funds. He also failed to report income from his ministry and, in a court proceeding, falsely said his ministry went out of business.
Based on the false information, the court discharged hundreds of thousands of dollars of Freeman's debt in 2006, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Weeks later, he had two Mercedes Benz vehicles and a Lincoln Navigator purchased or leased for more than $430,000 in the name of a church member.
In addition to 27 months in prison followed by three years of supervised probation, Judge Roger Titus orderered Freeman pay restitution of $631,050.52.