Stroll through Rockridge BART station between 5 and 8 p.m. and you’re likely to see them: Young, earnest, polite kids raising money for their church.
If you ask them why, like the East Bay Express did, they might tell you they’re raising money for a new 24-hour day care center, with the “pastor’s house on top.”
The pastor is Robert Lacy, and the organization is St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church and private school in West Oakland. The church has a permit from BART to raise funds nightly.
What the church or Lacy don’t have is a permit for any new construction or remodeling. Plus, the pastor’s ex-wife, Elizabeth Curry White, tells the Express that Lacy has sent kids out on fundraising shifts for years, with nothing to show for it.
“He tells my sons that he don’t have no money, so they go out there and try to get money … He takes all the money and keeps it.”
A further investigation by the Express showed a history of financial problems for Robert Lacy, including lawsuits, bankruptcy, and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor theft charge in 2007.
A parent of a former St. Andrew student told the Express she pulled her kid after the fundraising demands became excessive. “It would be like 10, 11 o’clock at night when they got home.”
One of the kids raising funds — Lacy’s nine-year-old step-granddaughter — told the Express she doesn’t like asking for donations every night, but she would get in with her step-dad if she didn’t.