An Oklahoma City pastor is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a church he led in Ardmore.
Former First Baptist Church pastor Willie Tiller Jr. is charged with ten counts of forgery. Current pastor, Doctor Wayne Lawson says no matter the outcome of the case, the church forgives Tiller.
"We are going to be OK," Lawson said.
Willie Tiller Jr., 53, pastored Ardmore's First Baptist Church on E Street Northeast for nearly ten years.
District Attorney Craig Ladd says for just over two years, Tiller forged a church member's signature, writing checks to himself from the church's daycare account.
"Membership is down," Lawson said. "But we are rebuilding and we know that God can do it suddenly and we are just trusting Him on that."
Lawson says he has known Tiller for 15 years and thinks of him as a good man.
"Love him dearly and the church still loves him," Lawson said. "And something just went wrong somewhere we believe. I believe he can recover."
After more than $12,000 was taken from the daycare, Lawson says he is working on rebuilding the church and gaining the congregations trust.
"Any leaders accused of defying that trust and as the members put so much trust in ourselves as pastors and leaders it is a hurting process," Lawson said.
Lawson says the church hasn't recovered the money but says the daycare is self sufficient.
"In this particular case, the forgery we have alleged is that Willie Tiller submitted or uttered a check that he knew to have a forged signature as the payer, and did that on at least ten occasions," Ladd said.
If convicted Tiller could spend up to 70 years in prison.
He is due in court for an initial appearance on February 10.
"He is forgiven, yes," Lawson said.
We tried contacted Tiller at Tabernacle Baptist in Oklahoma City.
A church staffer confirmed he's currently the pastor there, but would give no further comment.