|
|
|
The Shawnee News-Star
  • Charges declined for local pastor involved in tornado benefit fund

  • A Shawnee pastor who was arrested last month on probation violation warrants from a Florida case will not face any local charges relating to questions raised over a fundraising benefit account for tornado relief efforts.
    • email print
      Comment
  •  
    A Shawnee pastor who was arrested last month on probation violation warrants from a Florida case will not face any local charges relating to questions raised over a fundraising benefit account for tornado relief efforts.
    Thomas Hughie Baxter Jr., 35, also known as “Pastor Tommy,” was jailed last month after Pottawatomie County sheriff’s deputies discovered he had probation violation warrants from Pasco County, Fla. That case involved time he served for aggravated battery and kidnapping, according to the sheriff.
    At the time of his arrest in Shawnee, Baxter, representing his area online church, had been helping with tornado relief efforts, including soliciting monetary donations and items to benefit the May 19 tornado victims, which prompted local deputies to investigate that benefit account.
    Sheriff’s investigators reported Baxter’s wife, Tammy, provided all bank information and receipts for the probe. The case was then turned over to the district attorney’s office for further review.
    Pottawatomie County Assistant District Attorney Bob Booth, who said the case involved concerns about misappropriation, has confirmed there will be no charges filed in this case.
    Booth said Tammy Baxter fully cooperated with deputies and supplied documents of expenditures, including receipts of items such as bottled water, with remaining items that were in storage donated to other relief efforts.
    As a result, he said prosecutors concurred with deputies that no charges are warranted in this matter.
    Tammy Baxter said she knew all along that would be the case.
    “I already knew in my heart they couldn’t find anything,” she said. “God takes care of us.”
    Thomas Baxter has a pastor’s license in both the state of Oklahoma and Pottawatomie County, his wife said, and their ministry also has a tax ID number.
    While her husband was extradited from Shawnee’s jail down to Florida last week, where he is awaiting a court date on the probation violation warrants there, Tammy Baxter said she’s been “praying everything is worked out.”
    She said she halted tornado relief efforts for a few days after his arrest because she received threats with the questions being raised over the fundraising, but she then continued relief efforts where she could.
    “That’s where my heart is,” she said.
    She said this is her hometown, and she, her husband and son put in $800 of their own money to start up the relief efforts as they initially got water, food and other items for those affected by the tornadoes, indicating the fundraising involved about $3,000.
    “I know we’ve done the right thing — helping our community,” she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Thomas Baxter was incarcerated with the Florida Department of Corrections from 2000 to 2010, records show, and she said the probation violations warrant allegedly involved technicalities and a missed court date in Florida.
    She said the charges involved a case from 14 years ago and they are working to get his Florida case and probation time transferred to Oklahoma since he is an established resident here and they both want to continue their ministry efforts.
    “It’s in our heart to stay here,” she said. “I stand behind him and still have faith in my husband.”
    They also hope to establish a building to hold future church services in Shawnee, she said.
     
     
     

        calendar