An accountant from Jacksonville, Fla., said he warned Grammy Award-winning musician Phil Driscoll and his wife, Lynne, on how they were handling their taxes.
Benjamin Cornelius said he wrote the Cleveland, Tn., couple who are now on trial for tax evasion that they "need to become more conservative and Internal Revenue Service-code conscious in order to enjoy life without being hassled by the IRS."
Mr. Cornelius, who did the Driscoll taxes in 1995, said he felt the Driscolls were placing too much in a "parsonage account." He said, "I thought the amount was too high. I thought it was a problem.
"For a tax-exempt entity, the parsonage allowance is supposed to cover basic housing."
He said the parsonage account totaled $130,266 in 1994.
Prosecutors say money went from the Driscoll ministry (Mighty Horn Ministries) to pay for a cabin on Parksville Lake for the Driscolls that was in their name.
Mr. Cornelius said he told Phil Driscoll he should consider taking more money in compensation rather than funneling money through the tax-exempt corporation.
He said after those suggestions, "it was like we hit a brick wall." He said, "I got a call from one of his administrative people and was told that we were being replaced."
Robert K. Anderson, an accountant from Cleveland, said he did the Driscoll taxes beginning in 1999.
He said the parsonage account was $280,000 that year.
But he said he wrote a letter at the request of an attorney saying that it was permissible for a church to have multiple parsonages. He said his own church, First Baptist of Cleveland, had four, including one on Parksville Lake.
Mr. Anderson said at one point IRS agents came to his house and inquired about the Driscoll taxes.
He said he was in a meeting in January 2002, in Dallas, Tex., and was told to amend their tax returns for 1996-1999.
He said a number of expenditures for the lake home, including mortgage payments paid by the ministry, were added to the Driscoll returns.
But, questioned by prosecutors, he said a number of other items were not listed, including funds for a trip to Israel, the funeral for the mother of Phil Driscoll and to pay off credit card debts of the late Mrs. Driscoll.
Judge Curtis Collier is presiding over the trial that started April 24, but has had a number of interruptions. Attorneys are hoping to finish up this week.