By Raul Hernandez
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The pastor of Solid Rock Christian Center in Ventura, who is facing theft and embezzlement charges, was released on bail on Monday night, according to his attorney.
Alonzo Gene McCowan, 49, known as the Rev. Lonnie McCowan, and his wife, Kimberly Ann Oglesby McCowan, of Camarillo pleaded not guilty Monday as they formally heard the charges against them at their arraignment in Ventura County Superior Court.
They were arrested Thursday on suspicion of duping now 86-year-old Leo Gilmond into signing over the deed to his Ventura home in October 2004.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Clark reduced Lonnie McCowan’s bail from $500,000 to $70,000 at the hearing Monday afternoon, despite opposition from prosecutor Miles Weiss. Kimberly McCowan, 45, was already free on $40,000 bail.
Lonnie McCowan’s lawyer, Ron Bamieh, said his client “wasted five days in jail” on a case that Bamieh claims was blown out of proportion by prosecutors.
Bamieh accused the District Attorney’s Office of trying to make Gilmond seem like a destitute and now-homeless man who didn’t know what he was doing.
“Frankly, it’s fiction,” Bamieh said today.
The prosecutor has maintained that the pastor abused his position of trust by committing a crime against an elderly victim. Weiss also has said there is an ongoing investigation and Lonnie McCowan might face more criminal charges.
Lonnie McCowan was charged with two counts of theft from an elderly person and two counts of money laundering in an amount that surpassed $500,000. His wife was charged with one count of grand theft and one count of money laundering.
© 2009 Ventura County Star