CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Bakker's former bodyguard has told a federal grand jury that PTL officials routinely shredded documents but that he was unsure if the practice was used to cover up criminal activity.
"To say that we shredded documents, criminal documents, to cover up criminal wrongdoing, I don't know," said Don Hardister, who served as Bakker's personal bodyguard and is currently head of security at the beleaguered ministry.
Hardister testified Tuesday and Wednesday before the grand jury investigating Bakker and his top aides.
"If we did it, it was not the intention of the security department, because we did not know what we were shredding," he said yesterday from his PTL office.
Hardister said he never personally ran the shredder, which was in a secure area with monitoring cameras.
"No vice president ever called me and said, 'I have these IRS documents and how about coming and getting them and shredding them?' " he said.
The 23-member grand jury is investigating fund-raising and spending at the ministry when it was under the administration of Bakker, who resigned in March over a sex scandal. Investigators are looking for evidence of wire, mail or tax fraud at PTL, which has filed for reorganization under bankruptcy laws.
The Rev. Sam Johnson, pastor of PTL's Heritage Village Church, is expected to testify before the grand jury about a $10,000 loan he made in 1984 to Bakker's right-hand man, Richard Dortch.
Officials believe that money may have been used to pay former church secretary Jessica Hahn to sign a statement denying the sexual encounter that later led to Bakker's resignation. Johnson has said he did not know if the money was used to pay Hahn.
Federal prosecutors want to know if PTL leaders used ministry money for personal expenses. They are also investigating whether Bakker and his associates broke laws by raising money for one purpose and spending it for another.