The leader of a Harlem separatist group whose church used 20% tithes to bilk members out of millions of dollars has died, according to his lawyer and followers.
Jermaine Grant, 44, who was sentenced in January to 18 months in federal prison after he admitted to using church funds to personally enrich himself, died April 1 after a brief illness. His prison term was scheduled to begin later this month.
His lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, said it was unclear if Grant’s death was related to the coronavirus pandemic, although church leaders revealed on social media that Grant died from COVID-19.
“It is a tremendous loss — no question — and unfortunately due to the current restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus, we are prevented from coming together to comfort each other and say goodbye as we so desperately desire to do,” church leaders said in a letter to the congregation.
Prosecutors said Grant and a co-conspirator, church treasurer Lincoln Warrington, used money from the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ on Madison Ave. in Harlem to buy property, vehicles, trips and private-school tuition for his kids, according to court papers.