A pastor in Tyler has been accused of taking money from an elderly couple and also opened bank accounts without his former church’s consent to pay personal bills, according to police documents.
Jerome Rocky Milton, 65, of Tyler, was charged Saturday with two counts of credit or debit card abuse against seniors and one count of theft of property between $ 2,500 and $ 30,000. He has remained in Smith County Jail Friday since his arrest on bonds totaling $ 550,000.
Milton is the Reverend of Open Door Bible Church in Tyler, and according to the arrest affidavit, Milton was helping care for an elderly couple in church and had the power of attorney and finances for them.
Tyler’s police investigation began when the elderly couple’s son overheard two church members say that Milton was misusing his parents’ bank cards and having them sign blank checks.
According to the affidavit, the investigation revealed multiple debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals for the elderly husband’s bank card. The detective said several checks had been issued from the couple’s account in Milton and his personal and religious accounts.
He repeatedly used the couple’s money to make personal payments on his own behalf, according to the affidavit.
Bank statements and receipts showed the old man’s card had been used to make a vehicle payment to Milton’s account at an auto repair shop. Records also showed Milton used the man’s card to pay off a loan at a used car business, according to the affidavit.
Asked about the couple’s use of the couple’s cards to make payments for his vehicle, Milton initially denied the act. When shown the receipt, the detective said Milton could not explain why this had happened, according to the affidavit.
The document also shows that Milton used the couple’s bank cards to withdraw money between March and July. Cash withdrawals totaled approximately $ 3,800.
A detective said Milton could not explain how the money withdrawn was used to benefit the couple. Milton told the officer the old man liked to keep money in his wallet to justify cash withdrawals, according to the affidavit.
During the investigation into the couple’s bank cards, the detective learned that Milton was previously the pastor of the Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Tyler, which was originally the Pleasant Hill Baptist Missionary Church.
According to the affidavit, Milton was asked to leave around 2018 by church members due to “his handling of finances and other suspicious behavior on his part.”
Texas Bank and Trust records for Milton showed he deposited two checks totaling $ 5,000 written to him last August from a US state bank account named Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church . The checks were signed by Martha Roane, according to the affidavit.
However, that American State Bank account was closed in 2018. Before Texas Bank and Trust officials were notified, Milton withdrew money and paid bills with part of that $ 5,000, indicates the affidavit.
The closed Texas Bank and Trust account had a negative balance of $ 2,991.52. When Milton wrote the first check for $ 3,000, the account balance was $ 21.29, according to the document.
The detective spoke to Kermit Lane, a current deacon at Greater New Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, who said the church had not written Milton these checks or any checks since he left the church there. about three years ago. He also said Greater New Pleasant never had a bank account with the American State Bank, according to the police document.
Lane said Detective Roane passed away earlier this year and was Milton’s personal secretary at church. At that time, she was not permitted to sign checks issued by the church or make financial decisions for the church, according to the affidavit.
Milton gave police a document showing church administrators voted to allow him to open bank accounts in the church’s name. The account, which was closed in 2018, had several written donation checks to the church deposited during the opening year. Several checks were also issued from the account and were used to pay for personal expenses such as cable bills and rent for the house, the affidavit states.
Lane later said that Detective Milton’s document allowing him to open the bank account was bogus, and Milton was only allowed briefly to access a church bank account to help with payments for a building during that he was a pastor. A Texas Bank and Trust official told the detective that the bank wanted to prosecute Milton, according to the affidavit.
Milton coached Bishop Gorman Catholic School in Tyler for over two decades. He led the school’s boys and girls track teams to 10 TAPPS State Championships, eight in a row from 1999 to 2006.
In 2018, the school’s McCallum Stadium track was dedicated to Reverend Jerome Rocky Milton Track Home of Champions.