Former Ardmore pastor Willie J. Tiller, Jr., made his second appearance in Carter County District Court Thursday. Tiller, who is charged with 10 counts of second-degree forgery, made his preliminary conference appearance before Special District Judge Carson Brooks. Tiller, accompanied by Oklahoma City attorney Lori Combs, said he would exercise his right to a preliminary hearing. Brooks set the hearing for May 31.
District Attorney Craig Ladd, who represented the state at Thursday’s hearing, said Combs told the court that prior to her client’s preliminary hearing she intended to obtain the services of a handwriting expert.
The 10 charges against Tiller, filed Jan. 28, revolve around checks from First Touch Learning Center, a daycare center affiliated with the First Baptist Church where Tiller served as pastor. The case alleges Tiller forged the name of Van Howard on checks ranging in amounts from $1,000 to $2,500 between August 2013 and February 2015.
Ladd said at the time the charges were filed Howard was a former board member of the learning center, who resigned his post in July 2013. Howard maintains he signed no checks after his resignation.
Tiller resigned as pastor of the local church in December 2014. Four checks were allegedly forged after his resignation. He was installed as pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City a month after the final check was forged.
The case was investigated by Ardmore Police Department. During interviews with detectives Tiller denied he had forged the checks. The investigation also included interviews with church members and the church’s accountant.
During his tenure as the local church’s pastor, Tiller was also a member of Ardmore City Schools Board of Education and had served as president of the board.
Superintendent of Schools Sonny Bates confirmed in February Tiller’s name had appeared on checks along with other members of the school board, but that he did not hold any sole financial responsibilities connected to the school.