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ILLINOIS: Judge lowers bond for pastor arrested in $300,000 theft case

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— A judge in Edwards County, Ill., has lowered the bond for a former minister accused of embezzling more than $300,000 from his church.

Jason Laws, 44, of Albion, Ill., is the former administrative pastor of the House of Prayer in Albion. During a hearing Tuesday morning, Judge Tim Neubauer reduced Laws' bond from $30,000 cash to $10,000 cash on a class-X felony charge of theft of over $100,000 from a place of worship. He also faces two additional felony charges of forgery.

Testifying in support of the motion to lower the former pastor's bond were his mother, Betty Laws, his wife Telisa; Mac Dalton, the current pastor of the House of Prayer; and his sisters, Vicki Harris and Julie Laws.

In addition to arguing the motion to reduce bond, Laws waived his right to a preliminary hearing and waived formal arraignment, entering a plea of not guilty to all charges against him.

A condition of Laws' bond if he can post bail is that he report to the Edwards County Probation Officer weekly pending trial. A pretrial hearing in the case has been set for Jan. 10 in Edwards County Circuit Court in Albion. For now, Laws remains in the White County jail at Carmi awaiting trial.