“When you work, you’ve got to have all the props so that every little thing looks right to the egg. The whole show is for him and the pieces have to fit. You need props to lend credibility, to set the stage.”
Anonymous con man from Richard H. Blum’s “Deceiver and Deceived.”
One of the first and most important acquisitions for Greater Ministeries International was its headquarters in Tampa. In 19993, Greater Ministries bought a former bank building at 715 E. Bird Street. The building, several stories and imposing as a fortress, was located off Interstate 275, just south of the Tampa Greyhound Track.
Inside the building was not like a church or a bank.
In addition the offices and a chapel, the Greater Ministries also had three vaults, and a money-counting room.
Also inside the Bird Street building was an “Herbal Research Center.” The Center was run by a man named Joel Arcilla, a doctor whose Pennsylvania license was suspended for not carrying malpractice insurance.
The Herbal Reseach Center offered a line of “Greater Live” herbal remedies, even cancer treatments. (Payne was quoted saying about the cancer treatments, “We actually pull the cancer right out of your stomach.”)
Some of the Herbal Center’s offerings were downright weird. One, a supplement called, “Beta 1, 3rd Glucan,” was to be used to survive “end-times plagues.”
In October of 1994, Greater Ministries purchased the Augusta (GA) Military Academy for $373,000.
In July, 1997, Greater Ministries paid seven million dollars to purchase Kentucky’s second-largest hotel, the Executive Inn, in Owensboro.
The Executive Inn’s purchase made local news when when it was revealed that Charles Eidson was the contact for Greater Ministries in the deal. Eidson issued a “common-law lien” to prevent others from bidding on the hotel. A “common law lien” is just a declaration by Eidson that he alone could bid on the property.
Local newspapers also highlighted Eidson’s anti-Semitic ravings. But the controversy did not prevent the purchase from going through. An Eidson associate, Jim Biggerstaff, took over Eidson’s role in the transaction. “I run the hotel,” Biggerstaff was quoted in the OwensboroMessenger-Inquirer. “If it makes any money, some of that will be returned to Greater Ministries.”