Former Bakker Aide Turns Down Parole
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Jailed evangelist Jim Bakker’s former top aide, Richard Dortch, passed up a chance for parole Tuesday and chose to stay in a work-release program.
Dortch, who has cancer, gave no reason for his decision, said Dennis Kelly, community corrections manager for the federal Bureau of Prisons in Orlando.
Dortch’s attorney, Mark Calloway of Charlotte, N.C., would say only that ″the release program ... was all-around better suited to his medical condition.″ He declined to elaborate.
Dortch pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy in the scandal that brought down Bakker’s PTL religious empire near Fort Mill, S.C. He was approved for parole last month.
Dortch has been at a halfway house since June 12. His release is scheduled for Nov. 10. He has worked during the day as a pastor and returned to the halfway house at night.
Dortch, 59, was considered one of Bakker’s most powerful aides. The two were indicted in December 1988 on charges of diverting more than $4 million in PTL money for their own use and conspiring to defraud PTL ministry followers.
As part of his plea agreement, Dortch agreed to testify against Bakker.
Bakker is serving a 45-year sentence in a federal prison in Minnesota. His sentence was overturned earlier this year, but he has not been resentenced.