A former pastor of Small Memorial AME Zion Church in York remains free on $20,000 bail for allegedly embezzling nearly $18,000 in insurance money earmarked to fix the church's roof.

Church elders went to York City Police in August after learning of a $126 overdraft in a previously unknown and unauthorized church bank account, according to court documents.

The Rev. Vincent Navorro Meekins Jr., 55, of Bowie, Md., became pastor at the South Queen Street church in September 2008.

The discovery of the missing funds came three months after Meekins was not reassigned to the church in May, the current pastor, the Rev. Charles E. Smith, said Monday.

Meekins now is charged with one count of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received.

Meekins could not be reached for comment and no attorney has entered his appearance in Meekins' case.

According to the criminal complaint, church elders met in August and voted to fix the roof, which had been damaged in February 2009.

Upon contacting the insurance company, they learned Meekins already had filed a claim, met with inspectors and adjusters and deposited the $17,955 insurance check into a new bank account in the church's name, according to the complaint.

City detectives determined Meekins opened the account with himself as the sole signer in December.

An examination of that account's monthly statements showed the insurance deposit on April 27 followed by numerous withdrawals in May and June, leading to the overdraft, police said.


Smith said Monday none of the insurance money was recovered, although the church is in the process of getting the roof repaired.


Meekins is scheduled to have his preliminary hearing 2:30 p.m. Friday before District Judge Ronald Haskell.