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FBI probes Angel Food Ministries
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
February 13, 2009

FBI probes Angel Food Ministries

FBI probes Angel Food Ministries
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
February 13, 2009

Angel Food Ministries, a Georgia organization known for its distribution of food to needy families, is under investigation by the FBI.

Steve Lazarus, a spokesman for the FBI in Atlanta, confirmed today (Feb. 13) that agents used warrants in a search of the ministry’s headquarters near Monroe, Ga. He declined to give details of the investigation.

According to tax forms posted on the York (Pa.) Daily Record web site, Angel Food CEO Joseph Wingo’s compensation increased from $69,598 in 2005 to $588,529 in 2006. It decreased to $164,938 in 2007.

Wingo’s wife, Linda, with whom he co-founded the ministry in 1994, also saw similar changes in pay. In her role as vice president, her compensation rose from $69,598 in 2005 to $544,043 in 2006 and dropped to $54,723 in 2007.

N.C. Baptist churches, along with other denominations, are involved in Angel Food Ministries. The Biblical Recorder, North Carolina Baptists’ newsjournal, recently did a story about churches that were involved.

Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for Angel Food Ministries, the work of the ministry continues despite the investigation.

“Attorneys for the ministry are working with government attorneys in

insure a smooth provision of information while not disrupting ministry

operations and the fulfillment of food orders,” he said. “Angel Food’s

ministry is to provide affordable, high-quality food to those in need

and we will continue to feed the needy.”

Torossian said said the ministry is cooperating with the authorities.

“Our attorneys are in touch with and working with the authorities,” he said in a statement.

“The Board of Directors for Angel Food Ministries has pledged its full

cooperation to law enforcement in order to furnish any information

requested.”

Another spokesman for the ministry, Juda Engelmayer, told the York

newspaper last month that the compensation was appropriate for a

ministry that size. He said the high compensation and nearly $1.1

million in loans from the ministry were intended to repay reduce debt

the Wingos incurred when they started the ministry.

The ministry sells boxes of food for $30 that feed a family of four for about a week. The food, purchased directly from suppliers at a significant discount, has an average retail value of $60. It is distributed in dozens of states with the help of volunteers at churches.

Angel Food has said it provided $95 million in direct food assistance to families in the U.S. in 2007.