Pentecostal Pastor Seeks Clemency For Alleged Wrongful Imprisonment

by | May 31, 2005 | Charisma Archive

Thousands of Christians across the nation are supporting pastor Dino Gentile’s appeal for clemency
Thousands of Christians nationwide have written letters expressing support for a Pentecostal pastor serving a 41-year sentence for a crime he said he was coerced into committing.


Pastor Dino M. Gentile of Chatsworth, Calif., is seeking clemency from President Bush for his role in a 1998 bank robbery in Pensacola, Fla.


The 49-year-old former pastor of The Ark, a Chatsworth congregation affiliated with the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship Inc., said he was forced to drive the getaway car at the threat of harm to his wife and two children in California.


“Dino was in terrible fear [that] he and his family [would be] executed,” said his mother, Emila Gentile Medeiros.


Gentile said he became involved in the robbery when Jeffrey Durham, now serving time for the Monsanto Employees Credit Union robbery, asked if he could accompany Gentile on a cross-country evangelism and fundraising trip.


Durham, who first represented himself as a mild-mannered Christian man and an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was eager to participate in church activities and interacted closely with the Gentile family. By the time Durham revealed his plan to rob the Pensacola bank, Gentile trusted him.


“Gentile embraced society’s throwaways, an aspect of his personality that spilled into his ministry,” said Jennifer Elise Chase in a master’s thesis she wrote about Gentile’s case, which she titled “The Preacher Who Trusted Too Much.” “Dino believes everyone has redeeming value.”


But as he sat outside in Durham’s getaway car with a bomb on the seat behind him and a threat of death if he did not cooperate, Gentile said he was forced to make a decision. “He turned from a model saint in my church for eight months to this absolutely possessed young man,” Gentile told Charisma.


So instead of running to the police the minute he got the opportunity, Gentile drove Durham back to California. “He was screaming at me the whole time we drove back to Los Angeles,” Gentile said. “I had to wonder what he was capable of.”


Durham was arrested for the robbery in 1998, and FBI agents later linked Gentile to the crime, charging him with aiding and abetting. Gentile claims his attorney failed to introduce evidence that would have supported his version of the events. Within 15 minutes, a Pensacola jury convicted Gentile. He received 30 years for his alleged use of an automatic weapon, and 11 years for the abetting charge.


Since then, friends, relatives, former parishioners and members of his 3.2 million-member denomination have written some 3,000 letters and faxes requesting clemency. Supporters repeatedly describe Gentile as a man of integrity and devotion.


“This good and decent man has suffered enough,” wrote Bishop Samuel L. Smith of the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship. “His community work has been exemplary. Helping the poor, the down and out, was a particular passion of this humble man.”


Linda Oakland, senior pastor of The Well Foursquare Church in Northridge, Calif., agreed. “All of his life and his work reflect the testimonials, one after another, of people who came out of difficult circumstances, who now serve as vital people in our community,” she wrote. “…We are anxious to have Pastor Gentile back serving our community in Southern California where he is so desperately needed.”


Among those who received letters and petitions are California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senators Mark Montigny and Bob Dole, the U.S. Department of Justice, former President Clinton and now President Bush.


In 2001, Justice Department pardon attorney Roger C. Adams sent a letter to Sen. Dole, saying Gentile’s request for a reduced sentence was being processed. Four years later, the process is still not complete. Gentile is praying for a miracle.


For several years, Durham, who is serving a 120-year sentence in a Colorado prison, has been promising to exonerate Gentile. “Don’t waive your right to an appeal, Brother,” Durham wrote in a 1999 letter to Gentile. “That’s what’s going to get you out of prison–that and a statement from me. I have to wait until after my trial before I make any statements. I will do what I said, Brother. Just be patient and know that the truth will set you free.”


Durham has not provided a statement to authorities yet.


Gentile said his appeal process has been exhausted, but a presidential pardon may still be available. White House officials won’t discuss Gentile’s case. “We do acknowledge when we receive a petition or application that is under review,” said Justice Department spokesman John Nowacki, “but we don’t discuss anything during the interim process.”


Gentile has seen dozens of men saved since his incarceration, but he hopes his prison ministry will soon end and has asked supporters to keep writing and faxing the president on his behalf.
Michelle Lovato in Lompoc, Calif.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 27 Seconds From the very first tent stake we drove into California soil, until now, there has only been one dream. And, after two years, that dream came true in Roseville. Roseville is the victory we have yearned for. It confirms that an era of...

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

Read Time: 2 Minutes 23 Seconds In this webinar, Grant Berry discussed the strategy the Lord is releasing for His end-time plans to reform His Ekklesia/church. God is revealing different focuses of this strategy to various parts of the body, especially as it relates...

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

Read Time: 5 Minutes, 2 Seconds A river is a source of life. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Jesus told His disciples that if we believe in Him, "rivers of living water" will flow out from within us, from our hearts. "Anyone who believes in me may...

Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Read Time: 2 Minutes 42 Seconds It’s very interesting how the Holy Spirit will use things that you’re going through to not only prophesy to you, but also to prophesy over the body of Christ. In listening to other people and hearing what’s been coming out of their...

Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

RECENT ARTICLES

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Read Time: 3 Minutes 7 Seconds “When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to...
Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes 56 Seconds God is good. And He has a good plan for each of our lives. No matter what may be going on right now, God’s plan is unfolding. In the meantime, Romans 12:12 tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,”...

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Read Time: 2 minutes 26 seconds The term "gaslighting" has gone viral across social media this year and Merriam-Webster chose it as their word-of-the-year, saying searches for the word spiked 1,740% in 2022 alone. We're breaking down what the Bible has to say about...

WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible

WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZdzLoS3wCM During a recent visit to @HungryGeneration, Pastor Vlad Savchuk asked Bill Wiese to comment on his personal experience applying the Word of God to his own life and health. These same principals hold true for all who read and...

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

Read Time: 1 Minute 32 Seconds The last six years have been the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve seen more death, destruction, disease and devastation than I care to remember. I’ve also seen the hand of God move in extraordinary ways. Indeed, sometimes I...

Pin It on Pinterest