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Keep Houston Press Free
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Be Thou Fishers Of Men, Or Scammers Of Government

There's no scam like a religious scam. And there's no religious scam like one where the church involved has a really churchy name, like Fishers of Men.

And that's what we have (allegedly) in Houston -- the US Attorney's office has indicted the heads of Fishers of Men for skimming millions in fake student loans and, just to put the cherry on the sundae, FEMA funds for helping Katrina victims.

But hey, the money went to a cause that would please God, as long as God was a big fan of spending six figures on a cruise and a kid's wedding.

Eric and Sheila Washington and Tony Overstreet were arrested last night at their homes, and we're guessing they were probably pretty well-appointed homes.

The newly unsealed indictments claim the three put in for more than $4 million in student loans on behalf of church members.

They then "directed that the student loan funds be turned over to the church to fund a new building, even though the proceeds of the loans were to be used only for educational expenses. The Washingtons and Overstreet would typically allow the applicants to keep $2,000 of the loans which were in the amounts of $25,000 or $30,000 and promised that Fishers of Men would repay the loans within a short period of time such as six months," the office says.

Nice touch:

After exhausting the supply of church members who were actually students, the Washingtons and Overstreet allegedly began to enroll other church members in community colleges, use the class schedule as support for student loan applications and then withdraw the church members as students once the loans were funded.

But that's not all, the feds claim: Fishers of Men also ripped off FEMA by claiming to be housing Katrina and Rita victims, to the tune of $300,000. Some of that money included claims for damages to property they said were caused by the victims.

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The three face what legal scholars call "a shitload" of prison time and fines, since the charges have been broken up into a bunch of counts.

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