Pastor served during service
The Rev. Johnny Chambers (left) is served with court papers by process server Tim Greshem on Friday while Chambers preaches during a Bible study at Century Cathedral. A federal court judgment asserts that Chambers and two others bilked an elderly Arizona man out of his life savings.
The subpoena stems from a
civil suit alleging the man conspired to improperly obtain an Arizona
man's life savings.
evangelist conducting a revival service Friday morning in Tulsa was issued
a subpoena that stems from a federal lawsuit claiming that he and two
others bilked an elderly Arizona man out of his life savings.
Johnny Lee Chambers, who has lived in the Tulsa area and has held
evangelistic meetings here on and off since 1993, was ordered four years
ago by the U.S. District Court in Arizona to repay $314,994 plus interest
to the estate of Robert Stickel.
has been conducting revival meetings for the past several weeks at Century
Cathedral, 1212 S. 129th East Ave., a church pastored by his sister and
brother-in-law, Geraldine and Bob Alsup.
private process server Tim Greshem walked to the pulpit Friday morning,
Chambers glanced at the papers, said, "Praise the Lord," and
returned to his message.
suit alleges that Chambers, his then-wife Natalie Chambers and Tatjana
Guenther conspired to obtain money from Stickel by improper means, and
exercised "undue influence and other improper means" to induce
Stickel to contribute the bulk of his life savings to the Chamberses.
was a younger woman who befriended Stickel when he was older than 70.
states that Guenther introduced Stickel to Johnny and Natalie Chambers,
who developed a relationship of trust with him.
alleges the three misrepresented to Stickel that the funds he gave would
be used for religious work, and instead converted them to their own
Gaar, a Denver attorney representing the Stickel estate, said that the
Chamberses and Guenther did not respond to the suit, and that in April
2002 the court awarded a default judgment in favor of the Stickel estate.
never got to argue the merits of the case," Gaar said.
Stickel, a retired Homeland Security customs and border protection officer
living in Arizona, is executor of his father's estate. He said his
father's money came from the sale of the family farm in Illinois.
he and his sisters were extremely upset when Guenther moved in with their
father in the fall of 1997.
months later, on Dec. 14, 1997, his father died. The death certificate
listed the cause of death as a heart attack.
Chrisman of Littleton, Colo., Robert Stickel's youngest daughter, said she
and her brother and sister were shocked to find he had only about $1,000
remaining in his bank accounts, insufficient money for a funeral.
Brown, the older daughter, was living with her father and Guenther when he
she had great respect for her father, but "I didn't realize how
gullible he was.
was all so traumatic," she said. "I've chosen different ways to
heal from it all. I knew that someday God would have his vengeance. Dad
was pure in his heart."
subpoena served Friday requires Johnny Chambers to produce documentation
of his assets, including copies of his federal tax returns, deeds to all
property he owns, all current and past contracts for which he is owed
money, cancelled checks, titles for all vehicles, and credit card
is ordered to appear Nov. 28 with the documents at the Tulsa office of
Lyons, Clark & Mensching Inc.
Pat Mensching, representing the estate of Robert Stickel, said the
subpoenas require defendants to appear "in aid of execution of the
the court has a procedure to hold someone accountable for failure to honor
theory, that eventually could lead to arrest warrants being issued, he
said, but "I've never had one go that far, especially in the federal
by phone after the Friday service, Johnny Chambers said, "The thing
we are very upset about is that they disrupted the service. This is a
religious service, and I'm an ordained minister.
all the statement I'm going to make," he said.
was served a subpoena Friday afternoon.
in an interview at her apartment near 51st Street and Memorial Drive that
she did not introduce Stickel to the Chamberses, as the suit claims, but
that Stickel invited her to their revival services in Arizona.
first, it seemed OK," she said, but she was offended "when they
started to collect people's cars and jewelry."
she "couldn't stand" the Chamberses and begged Stickel to stop
going to their meetings.
she and Stickel were prayer partners and friends, and she was upset when
conducted revival meetings in Tulsa in 1993, 1998, 1999 and 2000, most of
them at Century Cathedral.
only son, Johnny Lee Chambers II, living in Reno, Nev., said his parents
were divorced, and his father married Mary Ann Tyson, who changed her name
to Natalie Ann Chambers.
Stickel family members are not the only ones to sue the Chamberses.
10, 2003, Johnny and Natalie Chambers were sued by a woman who said they
had charged $12,582 on her credit card and had refused to pay it back.
told the court she agreed to let the Chamberses use her card to charge
$2,000, with the agreement that they would pay her back. The suit alleges
they exceeded the agreed amount by more than $10,000, and cut off contact
with her. Five months later, the court entered a default judgment against
the Chamberses for the amount charged plus interest and attorney fees of
Chrisman, husband of Sandy Chrisman, said he has gotten a measure of
closure from seeing the subpoena filed on Chambers.
been chasing this guy for nine years," he said.
Chrismans are involved in a ministry, Haven Ministries in Littleton, to
help people who are victims of what they call "religious affinity
fraud," exploiting the trust, friendship and tight-knit structure of
people in religious groups.