PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Guilty pleas Monday afternoon in the case involving a popular Petersburg pastor and his friend.
Reverend William Bland Junior admits to helping former insurance agent, Ralph Bolling, defraud Bolling's estranged wife out of nearly $400,000. Bolling and Bland pled guilty to multiple charges. Under a plea agreement neither will serve any jail time.
Bland pled guilty to willful misconduct by a notary and accessory after the fact to forgery.
"I didn't mean any harm. I just made a mistake," said Bland as he left the courthouse.
Bolling pled guilty to three charges including forgery and grand larceny.
"I have no comment," said Bolling after being sentenced.
During a police interview Bolling had plenty to say to an investigator.
"There's is no evil in me. I'm not that person. I sleep real good," said Bolling during a recorded police interview.
In court and during that police interview Bolling admits to forging the signature of his estranged wife, Patricia Bolling.
It's a move that enabled Bolling to collect a lump-sum payout from his pension plan totaling just over $372,000. Without his wife's signature Bolling would not have been able to collect the funds.
"He requested and asked his wife to sign a consent form in order for him to obtain the money, she said no," said Cheryl Wilson, Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney.
Bland notarized the forged document -- claiming he witnessed Patricia Bolling sign the paper. Evidence proved that to be false.
"I did it as a friend. I wasn't trying to defraud anybody," said Bland.
As for the money....
"The money is in a position where it can't be moved. So another court will determine who gets what," said Wilson.
Since neither man has a criminal record both received suspended sentences.
Bland must pay a $500 fine. He's pastor at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Petersburg. He also owns William N. Bland and Son Funeral Home.
Today's proceeding concludes the criminal part of the case. Now, there's a civil action. Patricia Bolling has filed a $1.9 million lawsuit against Bolling and Bland. She claims their unlawful actions damaged her reputation, business, and profession.