Another important accomplice in Gerald Payne’s Greater Ministries scheme was the aggressively vile Patrick Henry Talbert.
On the road with Payne and Hall, with his greased down ‘landing strip’ hairstyle (think Richard Nixon at 50), and his snake smooth southern drawl, Patrick Talbert was a mesmerizing speaker, and one of Greater Ministries best recruiters to the program.
“God says give, and it shall be given,” Talbert said assuringly to a Greater Ministries audience in 1997. “You give a gift, we basically take it offshore — and we’ve been doing this for nine years, nobody’s ever lost a dime — and we multiply it back through the body of Christ. … We don’t promise you nothing. We just say nobody’s lost a dime in nine years, and we double everything.”
Like Hall, Patrick Talbert had is own sketchy past. According to a report in the The Tampa Tribune, Talbert was twice sued since 1994 by people who accused him of swindling them. One plaintiff was a couple who said Talbert stole a $100,000 investment. The other was a widow who claimed she lost a $25,000 investment.
Talbert’s firm, not affiliated with Greater Ministries, was called Cross Financial Services. Cross Financial was shut down by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC investigation concluded that Cross Financial was a Ponzi scheme, and that $14 million of the $21 million invested went into Talbert’s and his partner’s, Norman Lower’s, pockets. Lower also worked for Greater Ministries.
In early November, 1997, in yet another scheme, Talbert would be arrested on a 42-count racketeering and securities fraud indictment. Again with Norman Lower, Talbert was accused of bilking a dozen elderly investors of nearly $300,000 in an investment scheme called called Down Town Auto. That scheme was run by Talbert and Lower independent of their swindling for Greater Ministries.·
Talbert would eventually be sentenced to a 10-year term in state prison for these separate swindles.
Patrick Talbert was also a connection for Greater Ministries to leaders and potential investors from those in the fringe, anti-government, far right. Like the most extreme of these “Sovereign Citizens,” Talbert claimed that his legal views rendered him exempt from secular law. He claimed diplomatic immunity as an ambassador from the Kingdom of Heaven.
As a rain-maker for fundamentalist Christian dollars, Patrick Talbert was money.
“The Bible tells us about the end-times transfer of wealth,” a smiling Talbert told Greater Ministries audience while out on bond, awaiting trial on fraud charges in 1998.
“God teaches all through the Scriptures that in the last days he’s going to take all those people that stole from you, the heathen, and give it back to the righteous… . We’ve given out over $500 million… .It’s not our money, it’s God’s, but we know how to make it, and we know how to give it out so people give gifts to our ministry and we give it back to them double. … It’s like Christmas day every day at our ministry.”