KEY WEST – The Rev. John W. McKenzie, former pastor accused of stealing more than $54,000 from of St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Bahama Village, regularly asked for and received large pay advances, documents show. The advances and other details are included in discovery documents the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office released recently.
According to church bank records released by prosecutors, McKenzie received large advances from the church’s accounts in rapid succession.
In March 2013 alone, McKenzie received an advance of $1,400; an advance of $800 on March 12; and two advances of $3,500 each on March 17 and March 29.
McKenzie’s attorney, Merrell Sands, said he would not comment on the case.
McKenzie’s requests for money also raised the suspicions of St. James Trustee William Mitchell. According to investigators, McKenzie asked Mitchell to sign blank checks instead of reviewing the bills and then signing checks.
McKenzie faces at least 15 years in prison if convicted. His jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 13 in Key West.