Moales running out of options to save his father’s Bridgeport church

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BRIDGEPORT – Recent efforts by Pastor Kenneth Moales Jr. and other Bridgeport leaders to overturn his church’s impending eviction following a foreclosure have proved unsuccessful.

On Monday, Attorney General William Tong’s office declined to investigate the lender, Foundation Capital Resources. The Bridgeport delegation had recently asked the attorney general to deal with the case.

Foundation Capital successfully went to federal court to seize the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and its East End properties for what Moales alleged – and the Foundation denied – to be predatory lending practices that left his church behind $ 15 million in debt.

“The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is a vital community institution in Bridgeport,” Elizabeth Benton, director of communications for Attorney General William Tong, told Hearst Connecticut Media in a statement. “Attorney General Tong has spoken to members of the Bridgeport (Legislative) Delegation and intends to continue these discussions to identify ways to support the Bridgeport community and church. As for the allegations of fraud and loan abuse, these allegations have been examined by the court and the Attorney General’s Office cannot legally intervene. “

And on Tuesday, it seemed that another of Moales’ latest plans – convincing Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration to seize the property through a prominent estate and sell it back to him – was going nowhere.

City attorney R. Christopher Meyer said no such request had been submitted to his department for consideration. Ganim and his spokesperson Rowena White did not comment. And the two East End council representatives – Eneida Martinez and Ernie Newton – had nothing more to add. She declined to discuss the matter while Newton said he should consult Meyer’s office.

Moales, who is appealing the deportation in federal court, could not be reached on Tuesday. The law firm representing him, Willinger, Willinger and Bucci, said his client “will continue to do whatever is necessary to remain an active and vital part of the Bridgeport community.”

State Senator Marilyn Moore, who helped lead the efforts of Bridgeport’s All-Democratic Legislative Delegation to, at the pastor’s request, lobby Tong in late September to help Moales, admitted: “I don’t know what that I could do more. “

“I went out of my way to try to shed light on what was going on and make sure the lending institution took the right steps,” Moore said Tuesday. “The Attorney General has been very generous with his time. He called me, along with four other attorneys (and) was also willing to speak to the attorneys for Reverend Moales.

Moore said she “escaped” because of the affection she felt for Moales’ father, the late Bishop Kenneth Moales, who founded the church 52 years ago and is remembered for. remembered as a highly respected figure in and outside the city.

When he passed away in 2010, thousands of mourners filled the Bridgeport entertainment arena for a service celebrating his life.

“Anything I could do to help Bishop Moales’ legacy, I would,” she said.

In the mid-2000s, father and son began planning to build a large 41,000 square foot glass and marble cathedral on Union Avenue to accommodate their growing congregation. The family borrowed, according to court documents, $ 6.1 million from Foundation Capital, securing the loan with church properties, then borrowed an additional $ 1.17 million.

Moales Sr. died in 2010. In 2013, Foundation Capital filed a foreclosure action in state court against Moales for unpaid mortgage payments. The case ultimately ended up in federal court, and in September 2017, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer issued a foreclosure order against Moales for non-payment of a debt of $ 12,630,230. That amount has since grown to over $ 15 million.

Following numerous additional hearings, the judge ordered on May 29, 2020 the eviction of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, a daycare, a summer camp, a private school – Love Christian Academy – and other East End operations owned by Moales.

The pastor filed for bankruptcy, but the federal bankruptcy court dismissed the case and allowed the seizure.

Meyer recently granted a temporary stay of the deportation order pending an appeal to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It would be a sad situation for them to lose everything that his father put in place,” Keith Williams, head of the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, a civic group said Tuesday. “We would hate to see an important church like this disappear. “

“To see this church – everything her father represented in this community – fall would be a travesty,” said Pastor William McCullough, head of the Greater Bridgeport Interfaith Ministerial Alliance of which Moales is a member.

McCullough said the alliance has sought to work with the national NAACP and with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, a friend of Moales Jr., to help keep the cathedral open.

“He’s talking to their lawyers,” McCullough said. “I don’t know what will happen if he loses the (eviction) appeal. We pray that he doesn’t lose and that they let him pay the money he owes. … We did all we could. We really fought for him.

McCullough admitted to hearing complaints that Moales made bad financial decisions and did not deserve any help from the city or state. And Moales, a Democrat, has made his share of political enemies over the years, both as a former school board chair and when he ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate in 2015.

But McCullough and Williams said the predatory loans were real and if they were somehow causing the woes of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, it needed to be carefully considered and dealt with.

“Maybe this is the Lord’s way of trying to get his attention,” McCullough said of Moales. “Sometimes he takes everything from us and lets us start over. I do not know. I’m just trying to be hopeful.


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