A shocking lawsuit filed last Thursday by the granddaughter of Trinity Broadcasting Network's founder alleges that she was threatened with a gun and terminated after refusing to ignore a financial "scheme" that involved tens of millions of dollars, the Christian Post reported.
The complaint, filed on January 29 in U.S. District Court Central District of California, alleges that Brittany Koper, granddaughter of the late Paul Crouch Sr. who founded the Christian TV network, briefly served as the chief financial officer and director of finance for the Trinity Broadcasting Network before being fired in 2011.
Her husband and co-plaintiff Michael Koper was corporate secretary and vice president of media services before he, too, was fired in September of that year. Both claim that it was their refusal to partake in "unlawful" activities that was at the center of their terminations, though Trinity Broadcasting Network has publicly claimed that Brittany Koper was fired for allegedly taking $1.3 million from the ministry.
Trinity attorney and spokesperson Colby May told the Orange Country Register in 2012 that Koper and her husband had taken money from the network, returning about $500,000 of it before they allegedly "started making threats" and creating a public scandal surrounding the ministry.
Koper has admitted that she and her husband took out loans, but said that they were approved along with a repayment schedule both parties had agreed on. She maintains that the impropriety was on the part of the network's leaders and executives.
"The nature of these illegal activities involved the systematic diversion of defendant Trinity Broadcasting's charitable assets through unlawful distributions to defendant Trinity Broadcasting's directors through numerous channels," her lawsuit claims. "The magnitude of these unlawful and related financial schemes uncovered by or disclosed to plaintiff Brittany Koper is on the order of $100 million."
Brittany Koper, who claims she was promoted from her human resources position to managing the company's finances just months before her firing, charged in the lawsuit that she was strategically elevated to chief financial officer so that she could help protect financial secrets.
"Plaintiff Brittany Koper learned from Defendant Trinity Broadcasting’s board of directors and Defendant John Casoria that Plaintiff Brittany Koper had been chosen for the promotion to Defendant Trinity Broadcasting’s head of finance because the directors needed somebody 'within the family' that they could trust to keep Defendant Trinity Broadcasting’s financial 'skeletons' safely in the 'closet,'" the lawsuit reads.
Claiming that she was told she would need to partake in "illegal schemes," Koper alleges that this would have involved the "systematic diversion of $100 million in assets — something that she said she and her husband were not willing to do and, as a result, they claim they were fired.
"Plaintiff Michael Koper and Plaintiff Brittany Koper were specifically threatened and intimidated by Defendant Trinity Broadcasting’s directors and senior executive Defendant John Casoria when Plaintiff Michael Koper and Plaintiff Brittany Koper stated that these issues needed to be resolved and properly reported to state and federal officials," the complaint continues.
See the complaint in its entirety below:
The Kopers claim that they were told that they, too, were complicit and that they would be arrested and prosecuted if they tried to report Trinity Broadcasting to outside officials.
The lawsuit also claims that the Kopers were secretly recorded and that Matthew Crouch — who is a vice-president at Trinity and a defendant in the complaint — used a gun to intimidate Brittany Koper, his niece.
"Defendant Matthew Crouch began tapping the firearm he had brought to the meeting and asked Plaintiff Brittany Koper what she thought would happen when she wrote a memo to the board critical of Defendant Matthew Crouch’s financial improprieties," the complaint reads. "Defendant Matthew Crouch continued tapping the gun he was holding to ensure that Plaintiff Brittany Koper recognized the lethal threat being made."
The defendants in the case are Trinity Christian Center of Santa Aba (which does business as Trinity Broadcasting Network), International Christian Broadcasting, Koper's uncle, Matthew Crouch, Koper's grandmother, Janice Crouch and her cousin, John Casoria, the Christian Post reported.
In a 2012 New York Times' piece, it was also noted that Koper's allegations against her family members were made public not long after her 2011 firing. At the time, May charged that it was Koper and her husband who had stolen money from the company, allegedly taking $1.3 million for cars, real estate and family loans.
"They’re just trying to divert attention from their own crimes," May said at the time.
In a statement posted on the Trinity Broadcasting Network website at the time, May added: "The soundness and veracity of these stories are completely undermined when you realize that they depend almost exclusively upon accusations from individuals who admitted they had embezzled and misappropriated over $1 million from the network, and its companion ministry, International Christian Broadcasting. And the most heartbreaking fact is that the wife of one of the central figures in that misappropriation is the granddaughter of TBN’s founders, Paul and Jan Crouch."
Trinity Broadcasting Network has flatly denied past claims waged against it and affirmed that it has had "sound financial and personal integrity" since its inception four decades ago.
Koper filed a separate lawsuit in 2012 against attorneys at the firm Davert and Loe who she claimed "advised her to falsify financial disclosures and government records" after she claimed to uncover illegal financial happenings within Trinity, the Christian Post reported.
A request for comment from the Trinity Broadcasting Network involving the latest complaint has not been returned to TheBlaze.
(H/T: Christian Post)