CLEVELAND - A Cleveland judge said because Rev. C.J. Matthews showed remorse in court, he will spend only 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges earlier this year.
After Matthews serves his time, the Mount Sinai Baptist Church and Ministries pastor will be placed on three years supervised release and will have to cooperate with the IRS for restitution.
The Cleveland pastor admitted in September that he failed to pay more than $90,700 in income from 2005 to 2007.
Matthews was in charge of two financial accounts at the church – one for the church itself and one for his own use, dubbed a pastor's account. While Mt. Sinai deducted and collected the required income tax and FICA withholdings from the total taxable wages of its employees, Matthews "willfully failed to report and pay over to the Internal Revenue Service those withheld taxes."
Prosecutors said Matthews instead "caused those funds to be used for other purposed including transfers into the pastor's account for his own personal use."
Matthews could've been sentenced to spend two years behind bars.
The Solon native was senior pastor at Mount Sinai Baptist Church and Ministries in Cleveland since 1988.