Judge Says Convicted Birmingham Pastor Must Go To Prison Friday - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Judge Says Convicted Birmingham Pastor Must Go To Prison Friday

By Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A federal judge today declined to delay the start of a prison sentence for a prominent Birmingham pastor convicted of income tax fraud.

The Reverend Gregory Clarke, pastor of the 6,000-member New Hope Baptist Church, is scheduled to report to prison on Friday to begin a 21-month sentence.

The Birmingham News reported on its Web site that Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Greene denied Clarke's attempt to remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction.

Clarke, who is 53, was convicted in July 2007 on charges he filed false income tax returns for 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Clarke's attorneys had argued that he should remain free pending appeal because they said he is not a flight risk or a danger to society.

Prosecutors said there were no questions of law or fact stemming from his conviction.

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