Three officials of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC), the controversial church founded by pro-administration Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, were arrested yesterday in California and Virginia over allegations of immigration fraud.
According to a press statement released by the Justice Department of California, those arrested were Guia Cabactulan, 59, who allegedly communicated with KOJC’s leaders in the Philippines; Marissa Duenas, 41, who allegedly processed fraudulent documents of church members; and Amanda Estopare, 48, who allegedly enforced fundraising quotas for KOJC members.
Since 2013, the three allegedly helped church members obtain U.S. visas by claiming that they would work as musicians for KOJC, ABC News reports. Upon arrival in the U.S., however, the three would confiscate members’ passports and force them to beg for money for a fraudulent charity called the Children’s Joy Foundation USA. The victims would claim that the money would be used to benefit poor Filipino children, but in reality, the funds were used to finance the church leaders’ lifestyle.
The victims alleged that they had to travel all over the U.S. to raise money to meet their quotas, and were abused if they failed to do so. They were also allegedly paid little to nothing for their hard work.
In order to keep the victims in the U.S., they were allegedly forced into sham marriages with other KOJC members or were enrolled in schools. Over the past 20 years, there were at least 82 marriages between church members who moved from the Philippines and KOJC leaders.
According to the affidavit complaint, from 2014 to 2019, the group raised US$20 million (PHP1.017 billion). This amount was transferred to the Philippines by church leaders and the victims, who brought the money in on commercial and chartered flights.
The suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, a crime for which they could be jailed for up to five years.
KOJC has been at the center of controversy for years now, with Quiboloy being briefly detained in Hawaii after he was caught possessing guns and US$350,000 cash in his private plane. However, he was released by the authorities when a KOJC member claimed that the guns and cash were hers. She was ultimately charged with attempted bulk cash smuggling.
This article, 3 Officials of Quiboloy-led church arrested in California and Virginia for immigration fraud, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!