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The Lyin’ King: Gerald Payne and the Greater Ministries International $500 Million Fraud

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One of the most disturbed of those close to Payne and Greater Ministries was a leader from a well-known, white-supremacist, anti-government, anti-Semitic organization, an angry, sour-faced man named Charles Eidson,

Eidson’s views, and they were scattered, are best described as demented.

In 1991, during an unsuccessful run for mayor of Tampa, Eidson told the St. Petersburg Times’ editorial board that he was concerned about satanic worship in Hillsborough County, Florida. Eidson told the editors that he had filed a lawsuit against a group of people that, he said, was a coven of witches who had bought an insurance policy on his life.

A year later, 1992, Eidson was arrested on federal charges of mail fraud and violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Eidson’s company, Cherokee Oil, was dumping waste oil into storm drains feeding into the Tampa Bay. Eidson lied to his customers, representing that Cherokee Oil was a used-oil recycling operation.

In 1994, after being found guilty on the federal charges, Eidson was sentenced to a 70-month federal prison term. Eidson was released while he appealed the conviction.

The next year, 1995, Eidson violated the law again, when he was convicted of illegally practicing law. The case involved an alimony and child support dispute. Eidson had never gone to law school or received a law license. His professional background was in marketing.

Most disturbingly, Charles Eidson founded the “Church of the Avenger,” a virulently anti-Semitic organization. At the Avenger’s headquarters, Eidson erected a cross with the twin lightning bolts of Hitler’s fearsome SS coming out of it. One can almost see Eidson shaking his fist when he writes of the “damnable eternal Jews!”

It was during the time when Eidson was appealing his federal convictions that he became close to Gerald Payne and Greater Ministries. In 1996, Eidson became Greater Ministries “legal adviser,” and he moved another of his organizations, the Tampa Freedom Center, into Greater Ministries headquarters. The Tampa Freedom Center was listed as a division of Greater Ministries at this time.

Payne and Eidson co-signed a letter to the editor of The Tampa Tribune, where they wrote, in part: “We do not believe in what the Jew has done and is doing to our country.”

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