A St. Paul pastor who stole thousands of dollars from an elderly parishioner after he was granted power of attorney over the man's finances was sentenced Friday to 10 years of probation and about six months in the Hennepin County workhouse, according to the Hennepin County attorney's office.
Gregory Oats, 32, of Roseville, was sentenced for stealing about $25,000 from Vernon Rollins, a former deacon in Oats' church, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, diabetes and mental illness. Rollins has since died.
Oats, a pastor at the Word of Faith Ministries in St. Paul, was charged last October with four felony counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult after persuading his 77-year-old congregant to grant him power of attorney over his finances and then spending thousands of dollars of Rollins' money at Wal-Mart, Burger King and other retail outlets.
Oats, as Rollins' designated "care agent," had Rollins moved to the Golden Living Center-Chateau nursing home in Minneapolis in 2010. Two months later, Rollins' daughter reported her suspicions to Hennepin County Adult Protection Services.
Police later determined that Oats made 130 ATM withdrawals from Rollins' bank account. Oats told an adult protection staffer that the money was being spent on Rollins' needs. However, authorities said, Oats had put Rollins at risk of eviction from his nursing home by letting his bill there go unpaid for about nine months, an amount totaling nearly $13,000.
According to court records, Oats and his wife had filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2009, about 10 weeks before Oats took over Rollins' financial affairs.