A Beaumont church claims its former pastor may have partnered with a law firm to embezzle more than $1 million.

First United Pentecostal Church of Beaumont, doing business as The Anchor of Beaumont, filed a lawsuit Feb. 21 in Jefferson County District Court against Lamb Law Firm, Kip Lamb, Leigh Parker and Lonnie C. Treadway.

In its complaint, the church alleges it won $1.094 million from a settlement with Lloyds Insurance Co. in 2006 for damages caused to its property by Hurricane Rita.

Following the settlement, Treadway, the church's pastor, ordered that the money be deposited into a trust account held by the Lamb Law Firm, the suit states.

"The ostensible reason for this action was to protect these funds from potential judgment creditors in a lawsuit then pending against the Church and some of its staff," the complaint says.

However, the church alleges the law firm did not hold the money in a trust fund, but instead stole the money from the church.

"Treadway knew and had reason to know that the lawyer defendants were not holding the church's money in trust and may have authorized or encouraged the lawyer defendants' misappropriation of those funds," the suit states.

The church seeks recovery of the settlement money and an accounting from Treadway of all his financial dealings with the church in the past 10 years. It also seeks attorneys' fees and demands a jury trial.

Wade Williams of Lewis and Williams in Galveston and Timothy A. Beeton of Simpson and Beeton in Galveston will be representing it.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B191-999

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