FBI search, lawsuit made for troubled '09 for ministry

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In February 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched Angel Food Ministries' headquarters.

Angel Food said a single search warrant was served, and it appeared the investigation involved an individual or individuals tied to Angel Food, not the ministry itself.

The same month, two board members sued the ministry and its founding family. The lawsuit, filed in Walton County Superior Court, said CEO Joe Wingo and his family made more than $2.8 million in 2007. The same year, Angel Food reported revenues of $6.1 million.

The lawsuit alleged that, by the end of 2006, the Wingos -- including Vice President Linda Wingo, Joe's wife, and Chief Operating Officer Andy Wingo, Joe's son -- used Angel Food credit cards to pay for more than $850,000 in personal purchases.

The family, in addition, arranged for Angel Food to "tithe" $600,000 to Emmanuel Praise Church, a church created by Joe and Linda Wingo. The money was then paid to the Wingos as a housing allowance, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also details an arrangement with Joe Wingo's company, North Carolina Aviation Leasing, which leased an airplane to Angel Food for $28,000 a month. The lawsuit says Wingo's company netted $10,000 a month at the expense of the ministry.

In all, the lawsuit estimates Angel Food lost $2.7 million from the family's misconduct.

Angel Food denied all the claims.

The suit was settled in a verbal, court-supervised agreement, but both parties allege the terms weren't met, and they were back in court last summer for a written agreement in front of a judge. The two board members resigned, and Angel Food agreed to cut salaries.

The ministry also paid severance and the legal fees of the board members. Angel Food agreed the family would no longer use corporate credit cards for personal expenses, and the jet leased to Angel Food at a profit was also turned over to the ministry.

Angel Food notified its distribution sites of the lawsuit and investigation with a letter offering assurance that deliveries would continue.

Joe Wingo wrote a newspaper opinion piece defending his salary -- more than $760,000 in 2008. He said it was fair for someone who worked 17-hour days over 15 years, five of which were unpaid.

An Angel Food statement addressed the lawsuit and investigation: "The board of directors and Joseph Wingo as CEO has addressed these problems and will continue to accurately report the financial status of AFM as required by law. These problems do not merit or authorize the suit that has been filed."

A year has passed, and again Angel Food has found itself at the center of a controversy, this time surrounding a piece of legislation that could benefit the ministry.

In February, Rep. Len Walker of Loganville introduced House Bill 1054, which would allow Angel Food and other groups like it to sell groceries online to food stamp recipients.

Angel Food recently hired Walker, a Methodist minister. The nonprofit pays him $50,000 a year to lead a program that sells its food to Georgia schools. The bill is currently postponed.

"The shame is really for people in Georgia on food stamps," said Juda Engelmayer, the director of media and communications and customer care at Angel Food Ministries. "It's not an Angel Food bill. The online aspect was to allow Georgia to become part of a federal test program for food stamps online. That's all."

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Riverman1 04/18/10 - 08:00 am
And these people are not in

And these people are not in jail? Why? Rep. Logan, getting his $50 grand a year is disgraceful.

augustahistorybuff 04/18/10 - 08:45 am
There are two other problems

There are two other problems with Angel Foods. 1. ANYONE can receive their services, no matter your economic status. 2. The food is the cheapest and crappiest indigestible substance I have seen. And they want to put this in the Georiga's public school system?

disssman 04/18/10 - 10:30 am
Man we have to do something

Man we have to do something about these single mothers ripping off the citizenry. Yeah that should be our focus, after all that is what the posters on this site complain about most. As to the cost for overhead and salaries. Isn't the purpose of a non-profit to make sure they have no money at the end of the year? And where does the paper get off suggesting a Republican Minister would do something crooked. The man is just trying to make a living by helping the poor. And of course we can check the budget on line for RCBOE and see we aren't buying the outdated crap, can't we?

Sacred Cow
Sacred Cow 04/18/10 - 08:52 pm
For what it's worth, this

For what it's worth, this organization is non donation based, takes no charitable contributions and actually returns money to communities. Unlike food coops, this group has donated about $30 million back to its host sites and it sends regular food donations to loads of charitable needs, like the Food Bank of North Georgia, Hosea Feed the Hungry and it gives to the Red Cross, March of Dimes and countless organizations.

Also, Angel Food sends food donations to needy communities, like it did when there were floods in Atlanta last year, a food pantry in Florida burned down, and Ice Storms in Kentucky stranded communities. Angel Food sent it trucks.

Let's not forget that it also just sent 60 thousand pounds of food to Haiti.

People are jaded, sure, but kindly give due where it is due. This is a good organization and it is often vilified erroneously.

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