Former Harvest CIO Charged with Felony Theft

By Julie Roys

Former Harvest Bible Chapel Chief Information Officer, Jeffery Parham, has been charged with four counts of felony theft for allegedly stealing more than $262,000 from Harvest between July 2017 and October 2018, according to a press release from Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon.

Church officials first reported the alleged theft in October 2018, after discovering alleged bookkeeping irregularities, the release said. Parham was then placed on administrative leave and fired months later.

In October 2019, Parham agreed to repay $100,000 to Harvest’s insurer, The Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co., to settle the company’s lawsuit against him. According to the lawsuit, the insurance company had paid $99,000 to Harvest for Parham’s alleged theft.

Parham’s case has been the topic of much speculation on social media, in large part because the Kane County investigation had not produced any charges for the past 17 months. Also, some, like former Harvest member, Jessica Hockett, have noted inconsistencies in Harvest’s public statements about Parham. (Hockett has posted a complete timeline of events here.)

Kane County Associate Judge Julia Yetter signed a warrant for Parham’s arrest and set his bail at $50,000, the press release said. It added that Bourbonnais, IL, police  took Parham into custody yesterday and transported him to the Elgin Police Department. There, he was booked, posted $5,000 bond, and was released.

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Parham’s initial court appearance is set for 9 a.m. April 30 at the Kane County Judicial Center.



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13 thoughts on “Former Harvest CIO Charged with Felony Theft”

  1. So what is the difference between the actions of Parham in comparison to the immoral actions of disgraced pastor James MacDonald? We all know that Macdonald spent tens of thousands of $$$ on non-Church related “personal expenses”. We all know that Church tithes and offerings were used to pay for an expensive African safari for James…in addition to many other well-known stories. There are reports of a “black account” that James used.

    Is the difference between James Macdonald and Parham that Parham’s non-Church related expenses were Never approved in advance by XLT? And James’s many thousands of $$$$ non-Church related expenses were approved because James, Rick Donald, and his sons were on the powerful XLT committee ? Is that the difference ?

  2. When I was at Harvest, I never had the opportunity to meet Parham in person.

    From the Daily Herald newspaper article, it states the following:

    “Parham, according to court records, acted as his own attorney, admitted to the theft and agreed with the Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company to repay $100,000, plus interest, by 2024’s end.

    four counts of felony theft, the most severe of which carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison with no possibility of probation….

    An attorney representing the insurance company later told the Daily Herald that Parham was “cooperative.”

    “This guy was really easy to work with. He seemed to be really remorseful,” attorney Steven Gertler said.

    Parham is next due in court on the theft charges on April 3.

    The Copper Springs Duplex Homeowner’s Association filed an eviction lawsuit against Parham on Feb. 20; that matter is due in court on Wednesday, records show.”

    So we learn:

    a.) that Parham has to pay $100,000 plus interest to the Insurance company by year 2024
    b.) that the Copper Springs Homeowners Association filed an Eviction notice against Parham
    c.) that possibly Parham may receive some sort of prison sentence due to 1 of the 4 charges carries no possibility of parole

    How in the world is Parham expected to pay back the Insurance company if he lands in jail and has no job??? He may lose his house now.

    All of this is occurring to a well-educated, and a well-compensated Director of Information Technology at a multi-campus church network ?? After HBC notified the police, this same individual was playing basketball and fellowshipping with the same church members of the same location where he committed the theft?

    From reading the article…I have more questions than answers here.

  3. Jeffrey Parham biggest mistake was he didnt use James McDonalds pal Fred “greasy thumb” Adam’s to launder the money his second mistake was he didnt have a Crew of Henchmen Elders and Pastors like Rick”the smiling assassin” Donald, or Steve “the fixer”Huston or Jeff”good cop”Donaldson, and let’s not forget Greg “kill the messenger “Bradshaw….these guys could have kept him out of The Bighouse.

  4. The forensic term for what you are describing is “collusion”. James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel incorrectly assumes he can use XLT and EC approval as his “get out of jail free card”. Adams/Miholland/Sharda approving these illegal/improper payments and the EC approving the illegal transfer of major assets worth tens of millions of dollars directly to James, doesn’t make James innocent of these crimes. It makes these other men complicit.

    The top financial officers and the EC have a fiduciary duty to Harvest and her donors, not to any one individual. None of these men are allowed to place any conflicting personal interest above this fiduciary duty. To the extent that James claims they aided and abetted his theft, they too should be charged as co-defendants.

    It is frankly unbelievable that HBC continues to keep former CapinCrouse Partner Jeff Sharda on as the chief financial executive. As a CPA and a Christian, he should be making every effort to recover those funds for the donors. What say you Mr Sharda? Where do you stand on this process?

    It’s beyond the pale that the current leadership is not taking a harder stance on this theft. The EC are all wealthy men who have the means to reimburse all prior losses. The State Attorney appears willing to prosecute this kind of theft. Bill Sperling and Ron Duitsman had professional conflicts of interest when they improperly signed over the rights to WITW assets to James, which was in violation of numerous laws as cited by Wagenmaker and Oberly.

    BTW, for just three years it was approximately $1.9M in personal expenses with another $1.2M in questionable added compensation, not tens of thousands that James scammed. HBC owes it to every single donor to be pursuing reimbursement for every cent that inured to James’ personal benefit. Why has this not be done yet?

    1. Hallelujah! We have a State Attorney willing to file criminal charges against a church executive who abused the church’s assets for personal gain.

      Back in November 2019, Wagenmaker & Oberly, the law firm paid hundreds of thousands in tithes to review James’ financial abuses, concluded that “HBC’s new Elder leadership is diligently seeking to identify financial abuses and losses involving MacDonald, such as through the SDK forensic accounting, corrective steps, and efforts toward optimal legal compliance.” That was FOUR months ago. There can be no “optimal legal compliance” until HBC has filed amended W-2s for James and Kathy MacDonald that reflect the millions of dollars in expenses which should have been counted properly as wages for both of them.

      HBC needs to also file a complaint with the local Police Department against James MacDonald using the SDK report as their evidence. Actually, they should authorize an accountant to go further back in time then 3 years for this criminal complaint. It wouldn’t take that long to assemble that spreadsheet and millions of dollars are at stake.

      HBC also needs to file a claim with their insurance provider, Philadelphia Insurance, to try to recover the stolen funds. The fact that these crimes may have involved collusion by other executives does not negate the theft. Keep in mind that “someone” approved and paid for all of Jeff Parham’s fake personal expenses. That didn’t slow Harvest down from doing the right thing there, did it? At worst, it simply means that all parties involved in the theft may need to be charged.

      Every officer, executive and Elder at HBC has a fiduciary duty to get this done. There is no excuse for being derelict in this duty. Anyone who has ever been a donor to Harvest Bible Chapel should demand this. It is YOUR money that was stolen and improperly used to buy extravagant clothing and stuff $8K bears and ship them from Alaska to Illinois, etc. That is YOUR money that you donated under the premise that it was being properly stewarded. Demand justice.

      If Harvest leadership refuses, file your own complaint with the local PD and include a letter citing the W&O and SDK reports as your evidence. It is not fair that Jeff Parham goes down for the identical crimes that James MacDonald committed, simply because it is more embarrassing to management that they supported and empowered such a monster for 30 years.

      This isn’t just about justice at Harvest. To the extent that criminal charges are filed against James, every scheming abusive pastor in the U.S. will be put on notice to stop stealing from their flock. To the extent that Harvest gives James yet another pass for his atrocious behavior, Harvest is empowering wicked wolves all over the country to take advantage of their flocks for greedy personal gain. If you won’t do it for yourselves, do it for other newer Christians and for the souls of the pastors who are tempted to become the next JMac simply because they witness no risk or consequences. Help to ensure that there will be an American church left for your kids’ kids and their kids. This level of unaddressed corruption is changing the landscape fast.

    2. Amy: thank you for your careful, detailed comments above.

      Your comments reveal the serious legal issues that are involved here.

      I also read somewhere that a large, significant percentage of Harvest Bible Chapel annual revenue went to interest expense as a single category. Joining and linking your good comments above regarding James’ compensation to the massive amount of interest expense over the years, it is just SAD how much $$$ was brought into HBC only to be WASTED due to debt expense + along with unusually high inflated salaries for the inner HBC culture of vocational staff.

      So much potential….so much waste due to violation of Biblical principles regarding Debt, lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and Greed !!! But where else could Rick Donald make $300 K per year as a “yes man” to James ?

  5. Of course the only individual actually charged so far is black…why am I not surprised? Shameful that no others have been charged.

  6. Charles Despeville

    This is just one thief from HBC who made a mistake of stealing from the other thieves. The rest of the gang that ruthlessly pillaged and plundered in every way possible the money given sacrificially is still at large, including the gang leader thief MacDonald. All this stealing was done in the name of God and with the Word of God on their fattened lips and used as a bait while the thieves were posturing and pontificating.

  7. I grew up in the evangelical church. And today I am more concerned about ravenous, wicked wolves preying on sheep INSIDE the church walls, than I am about external factors affecting the church.

  8. One down, ten to go; continue with criminal charges towards the other XLT members. The IRS, Illinois Attorney General, and the Cook County State Attorney should be contacted on the misuse of funds and fraud at HBC. As well, HBC should put a lien on JMac’s $1.9M property for the misappropriation of church funds, the tremendous debt load and now back taxes owed.

  9. misterjesperson

    The writing is on the wall for what is left of “Harvest.” COVID-19 will finish it off and it will soon be history. There is no getting the Mammon back that was foolishly wasted, but no one need repeat the same mistakes in the future. God’s wrath is now turned onto His own house. Watch what falls over the next 18 months. No one cleans house faster and more efficiently than God the Father. Nothing essential to His Gospel will fail completely although I think everything will feel the sting of the correction of God to some extent. May we turn away from our idols, celebrities and glorying in “big religious things” and return to the simplicity of simple faith in Jesus, alone.

  10. And when will the ex-elders who failed their Biblical duties to keep pastors’ behaviors (especially James) in line; When will they be flogged in public?
    It’s about time Christianity produce Biblical manly men who will uphold their Scriptural duties instead of running away when the going gets tough. I’m speaking here about Dan George who failed to keep his written promises to stay with the Harvest congregation, lead them, and work towards positive change in Harvest leadership. Instead, he abandoned ship less tan 6 weeks later, and instead apologized to Julie Roys, declaring himself a “victim of James” as he sucks his thumb while holding his Linus blankie.

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