Residents say Miami Gardens pastor lied, scammed them out of thousands
Pastor Eric Readon using pulpit to rob people, 'not to be trusted,' some say
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Be it a shooting, a hit-and-run or any other tragedy, pastor Eric Readon usually shows up, stands in front the TV cameras and then preaches about those involved doing the right thing.
But some say the pastor isn't practicing what he preaches.
"I see him on the news and I shut the news off," Latasha Blue said.
Readon is the pastor of New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens.
But posted online, along with his sermons, are videos of the houses he apparently owns and rents out.
Readon uses Facebook videos to show off his homes.
"Finishing another project. The big house is complete," he said in a video. "You work hard. You play hard."
He said in the videos that he owns 23 places and that he had several projects going on at once.
"We don't get no grant money, no loans," Readon said. "We build all of our projects out of our pocket."
"If you rent from me and you don't pay your rent, you gotta go," Readon said. "My momma gotta go if she don't pay her rent."
In October, Lakeysha Veal, a school bus driver and a mother of five, saw pictures online of a house, owned by Readon's wife.
She handed Readon a $2,500 cash deposit to rent the place and recorded the transaction because Readon didn't have a receipt.
"He told me his tenants was moving out at the end of the month (and) the place would be ready in two weeks," Veal said.
She said two months went by and Readon kept stalling. She eventually went to the house and knocked on the door and asked the tenants if they were moving out.
The people inside said no.
"They had no idea what I was talking about," Veal said.
Five months after handing over her hard-earned cash, she posted the experience and a warning on social media because Readon was giving her the runaround about returning the deposit.
She claims he threatened her.
"(He said) he was going to come after me and my job, and I hung up," Veal said.
When asked what surprised her the most about the situation, Veal said it’s that Readon is a pastor "and everyone thinks so highly of him."
"He could just take a person money and don't care. He said he was going to return the money and he never returned the money," Veal said.
In November, corrections Officer Thomas Harper gave Readon a $2,500 deposit after seeing an online video of a house.
Harper said it was the same story.
He, too, never got to move in because someone was living there.
Harper said he got the runaround for six months while he tried to get his deposit back.
"He said, 'Give me some time. Have mercy on me. Give me some time,'" Harper said.
Harper said Readon texted him a picture of bundles of cash as if to taunt him.
"You're supposed to be a pastor," Harper said of Readon. "You're supposed to be standing up and doing the right thing."
When Harper threatened to expose Readon on social media, he said the pastor's response was, "Trust me, my church ain't going to believe that and they love me."
Since speaking to Local 10 News, both Veal and Harper have gotten their money back. That only happened after Local 10 News started asking Readon questions.
Both said they were told they had to sign a confidentiality agreement and not talk about the situation.
Latashia Blue is still waiting for the money she said Readon owes her.
Blue said she gave him money orders totaling $3,000 as a down payment for a Mercedes-Benz that he was selling.
Readon has her money, but Blue said she never got the car. Then she started pressing him for her money back.
"He started calling me with threatening messages and telling me he's untouchable, invincible," Blue said. "(He said,) 'You think you can come after me? You don't know who you are dealing with.'"
Derrick Andrews said he loaned Readon $4,000 to pay for rappers to come to Miami Gardens for an event.
Andrews showed Local 10 News a text he received from Readon, wanting more time to pay him back.
It never happened.
"He say he can't be touched. He say he's lawyered up and he's ready for anything," Andrews said.
Andrews said he trusted Readon because he claims to be a man of God.
"He's using the pulpit to rob people," Andrews said.
Readon promised several times to sit down and talk to Local 10 News about his dealings, but he never did.
"I'm trying to let everyone know that this is one that's not to be trusted," Harper said.
Andrews had a message of his own.
"I want them to know that pastor Eric Readon is not the preacher you think he is," Andrews said.
After a month of trying to talk to Readon about these issues, his attorney said they will sit down and answer questions next Tuesday.
Local 10 News has been trying to talk to Readon for weeks so he could respond to the allegations and tell his side of the story.
Readon called Friday to say that he would give an interview with another Local 10 News reporter, but he won't speak to Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier.
Local 10 News will keep trying to get his side of the story.
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