A Baptist minister and two building contractors were indicted in federal court here today on mail fraud charges in connection with more than $80,000 in alleged kickbacks in the $2.2 million construction of a sanctuary and other buildings for the new Riverdale Baptist Church in Largo in 1978.
The Rev. Fred E. Snowden, 32, a former assistant minister of the church now living in Florida, secretly received more than $80,000 from contractors John C. Boatwright Sr. and Calvin D. Boatwright in exchange for hiring subcontracting firms for the job that were owned by the Boatwrights, according to the 15-page indictment.
Snowden did not tell church officers of the relationship between the Boatwrights and the subcontractors, the indictment said.
The Riverdale Baptist Church, which has one of the largest congregations in the Washington area with about 3,000 members, changed its name from First Baptist Church of Riverdale and moved from Riverdale to its current location, 1133 Largo Road, in the late 1970s.
The church's present minister, the Rev. Hubert Fitzpatrick, said Snowden is now living in Orange Park, Fla., "doing school fund-raising."
In the 1970s, Snowden was both assistant minister and business manager of the church.
In January, 1977, acting on behalf of the church, he contracted with the Boatwrights to be construction managers for a new sanctuary and five town houses the church was building in Largo.
The church obtained a $2.2 million loan from the American Bank of Maryland for the project.
Thereafter, the Boatwrights -- John Boatwright Sr. is an uncle of Calvin Boatwright -- made 44 payments to Snowden through October 1979, totaling more than $80,000, according to the indictment.
Snowden in turn "did hire as subcontractors for the construction project companies that were owned and operated by" the Boatwrights and "willfully failed and omitted to tell the board of trustees of the church about this relationship," the indictment said.
Snowden was also charged with three counts of income tax evasion for the years 1977 through 1979. The indictment said he understated his income by a total of $50,030 in those three years.
Federal prosecutors said John Boatwright Sr. now lives in Annandale and Calvin Boatwright lives in Atlanta. Neither could be reached for comment.
Fitzpatrick said the contracting business "has been dissolved."