STARKE, Fla. - A Starke couple turns to the I-TEAM after they say their trusted pastor failed to pay them back after loaning him thousands of dollars. The pastor is Kyle Harrison -- the same pastor that has been at the center of numerous I-TEAM investigations over the past few years.
At the time of the loan, Harrison was the senior pastor at Harvest Church in Starke. Mike and Charlene Oliver trusted him so much, Mike agreed to loan Harrison $50,000 as an investment into Harrison's business, Transformation Ministries.
As a member of Harvest Church, Mike had turned to Harrison for spiritual guidance when Mike was diagnosed at age 40 with lung disease. He was given just three to five years to live and wanted his family to benefit from the investment if he died.
"I wanted to have money come back for my family in case something happened, and I was no longer here," Mike explained.
The only cure was a lung transplant, but because of Mike's deteriorating medical condition, he says two hospitals had already denied enrolling him as an organ recipient.
"He was the pastor, so why wouldn't you trust the pastor," said Mike.
"He made us feel like he genuinely loved us," said Charlene.
Mike says he was forced to take medical retirement as a Corrections Officer, and Transformation Ministries -- which employed ex-offenders as car mechanics -- appeared to be a viable business.
"We had a whole bunch of business," said Mike, who spent time working at the shop himself.
The Olivers drew up a lengthy contract, which has Kyle Harrison's signature. It detailed a monthly payment plan of $488 and included a list of collateral that would become the Olivers' property if Harrison failed to repay the loan.
"At first he paid us," said Mike.
But that didn't last. The Olivers said the monthly payments became more inconsistent.
"He's the pastor, so we were like, 'We will give you a little more time,'" Mike said he told Harrison.
While waiting, Mike became sicker and was given just two weeks to live. Then, he and his wife received a life-changing call. A hospital in Pittsburgh approved him as a lung transplant recipient.
Mike and Charlene drove to Pittsburgh because Mike couldn't fly with the dozens of oxygen tanks he required to breathe.
"We had 30 tanks in the back and would have to pull over on the side of the road to change them out so that he could breathe," Charlene said about her husband's condition. Within days of arriving in Pittsburgh, Mike received his transplant.
The Olivers now say they believe Harrison took advantage of Mike's medical condition and never thought he would have to pay back the money because Mike was so sick.
Mike and Charlene have seven children and worries about providing for their family. Mike's medication costs $400 a month and he must travel to Pittsburgh every three months for check-ups.
"He preyed on us and my husband's weakness," said Charlene.
They said they have not heard from Harrison in more than a year and said Harrison's phone has been disconnected.
While the Olivers said they know they probably won't get their money back, they reached out to the I-TEAM because they want to warn anyone else who might come in contact with Harrison.
"He has the gift of gab," said Charlene.
"He is not what he pretends to be. He'll make you feel like everything he's doing is Godly and, 'I'm trying to help you,' and that's not the case." Mike added. "I don't want nobody else to be hurt by him or anyone else. I want people to be careful, be careful."
The Olivers were not aware Kyle Harrison had also taken money from another Bradford county couple, Helen Bohannon and her husband, who was fighting cancer at the time.
Bohannon paid Harrison more than $26,000 to replace her roof after it was damaged in 2017 by a tornado. Harrison told her he was a licensed contractor, which was not true. Her new roof leaked badly, and the job was not completed. Harrison was charged with falsely identifying himself as a contractor and entered a plea deal to avoid jail time. He is paying back Bohannon.
After our first story about Bohannon aired in December 2017, Harrison was removed from his position as senior pastor of Harvest Church.
The I-TEAM has learned Harrison moved to the Orlando area, but has been spotted in Keystone Heights. We have called several numbers to contact him to get his side of the story about the Olivers but have not heard from him.
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