A minister facing federal charges for trying to hide proceeds from drug sales is a free man Monday evening.
A Channel 4 I-Team investigation exposed Pastor Mike Whitsey for misleading his congregation about the bankruptcy of his church.
Whitsey told the court he's not guilty, and he left federal court Monday with specific conditions. He agreed to not take or use any church donations, he won't leave Middle Tennessee and he surrendered his passport.
Now, one of his former followers said she suspected something was wrong months ago. Veronica Finley said her faith is being tested.
"I just can't let this stop my life. I do believe in God, and so, he is man. And the Bible says, 'do not put your trust in man,'" Finley said.
Finley is the former children's ministry director and said when she learned Whitsey had been indicted for allegedly hiding proceeds from selling drugs, she admits she was shocked but not surprised.
"It never crossed my mind about drugs. I knew something was not right," Finley said.
The Channel 4 I-Team found Whitsey failed to tell the congregation that the church was in bankruptcy, but he continued to solicit money from the congregation.
Finley has now come forward to say in February she was forwarded an email from a deacon who alerted other church leaders about the bankruptcy.
Finley was then fundraising for her youth division and decided to start telling parents to stop giving.
That's when she says Whitsey called her.
"He said, 'the bankruptcy's not true. Some of it may be true, but not all of it. You're wrong, you're out of place,'" Finley said.
Finley and her husband then left the church, knowing they may never know what happened to the $1,000 they gave from their own pocket last year.
"I think it went to him. I think all of it went to him," Finley said.
Whitsey is already a convicted felon from a previous drug and theft conviction, so he also agreed Monday not to possess a firearm.
His federal public defender said she had no comment.
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