The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to investigate a Pennsylvania contractor who has allegedly obtained thousands of dollars from Washington area churches on the promise that he could help them obtain substantial foundation grants.
The investigation of Glen Slayman of Beaver, Pa., was ordered to determine if his recent actions violated a 1974 court order resulting from SEC charges that he managed a multimillion dollar "confidence" fraud involving 31 other churches.
Slayman recently persuaded at least four churches in Maryland and West Virginia to pay thousands of dollars for architectural fees by telling them he could help them win huge foundation grants. According to SEC officials, this may have been in violation of a legal consent decree he signed in 1974 prohibiting him from violating federal fraud statutes.
The injunction was issued by a U.S. District judge in Pittsburgh after the SEC charged Slayman with convincing churches under false pretenses to issue bonds so that they could pay for construction projects they had hired Slayman and his affiliated companies to do.
According to a statement in SEC files, the 1974 complaint alleged that Slayman, operating a company he called Christain Bonds, Inc., "gained the confidence of small independent churches and benevolent organizations wishing to build a new facility and would offer to the organizations a package deal."
According to the SEC, the package deal included having the churches sell bonds to persons by telling them that Slayman's company guaranteed them, then using the money to pay Slayman and his associates for architectural services, building materials and construction costs.
The SEC charged that Slayman's scheme involved the offer and sale of at least $3 million worth of bonds by 31 churches and benevolent organizations to 1,500 persons between 1966 and 1972, and that Slayman's companies collected $164,000 in fees for supervising the sale of the fraudulent securities and at least $650,000 in mark-ups on building materials and fees for architectural services.
By signing a consent agreement to the court injunction, Slayman neither admitted nor denied the allegations that had been brought against him, the SEC said, However, Cliff Kennedy, the assistant administrator regional office the SEC, said yesterday that Slayman could be found in civil or criminal contempt of court if the SEC determines that he has been violating its fraud laws.
"We will certainly look into this," Kennedy said, "to see if there are any violations involving securities law," in Slayman's present operation.
According to officials of four different Baptist churches, Slayman has offered them package plans for construction for new churches and church schools that involve using an architect who shares Slayman's office, access to foundations including a "Mellon Foundation" in Pittsburgh for grants, and Slayman's Arrow engineering firm for the eventual construction.
According to officials of the Riverdale Baptist Church in Prince George's County, Slayman persuaded them to pay $10,000 to the architect, Clarence V. Blezard, by telling them he had contacts in the Mellon foundation that could bring the church a $2.5 million grant.
Officials of the Mellon Bank Foundation and other Mellon foundations in Pittsburgh have denied knowing anything of Slayman or th churches he is working with. Slayman's "contact" turned out to be a clerical worker in a small Mellon Bank branch who says she has nothing to do with foundation grants.
Slayman and the pastor of another local church he is working with, the Rev. Dan Allen of the Seabrook Baptist Church, have conducted a seminar for churches in Fredick, Md., on how to win grants and have reportedly charged the churches $1,000 each for attending.
Sales representative for the Frederick Sheraton Hotel said yesterday that Allen organized a "church grant seminar," featuring Slayman as a speaker last April 16 and 17, and that 15 churches attended.
The Sheraton staff said that Allen had organized a second such seminar for next Monday and Tuesday but that yesterday morning, Slayman had called to cancel his and Allen's reservations at the hotel.
Two church officials familiar with the seminars, who asked not to be identified, said that churches attendin the the seminars had been charged $1,000 each and that subsequently at least one had paid Slayman's architect associate to begin work for them.
Slayman and Allen could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The ministers of the Riverdale Church, who offered documents to support their case, said they have been deceived by a man who dazzled them with his evangelical manner, his seeming care for their church and his glowing descriptions of millions of dollars flowing from foundations to churches through his work.
Foundation officials and fund-raising organizations contacted by The Washington Post, however, said that Slayman's tactics for winning grants, as alleged by the various churches, were highly irregular and that much of what church officials say Slayman told them about winning grants is not true.
The SEC complaint against Slayman in 1974 charged that "by offering what appeared to be a simple and convenient way to finance and construct new facilities and by making certain materially false and misleading statements, [Slayman and his associates] induced [the churches] to enter into agreements" with Slayman.