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CBS 58 Investigation lands "Pastor Dave" behind bars

WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A two-year investigation by CBS 58 lands a con artist in Jail.

David Ward, a contractor who also claims to be a pastor, was sentenced this week in Waukesha County for swindling thousands from a local couple.

The Judge handed down the sentence after prosecutors presented Pastor Dave’s two-decade-long criminal record. A record CBS 58 Investigates uncovered.

After years of conning people out of money across Wisconsin, Pastor Dave is behind bars.

“That’s a wonderful thing,” said one of the victims, Barbara Read.

“Good,” said another victim, Linda Wachholz. “That way he’s not going to be starting up and going out and trying to find new victims.”

For the last two years, CBS 58 investigated claims from several people that “Pastor Dave” promised to do home repairs, took money and took off.

“You said you took the money and bought the materials,” said Waukesha County Judge Michael Aprahamian. “You never bought the materials. You just lie. Lie after lie.”


This week’s sentence came after a January CBS 58 Investigates report uncovered Ward’s extensive criminal past, including multiple felony convictions in Illinois, spanning back twenty years.

It led Prosecutors in Waukesha County to revise Pastor Dave’s plea deal and ask for a harsher sentence.

“We were able to confirm these prior cases for Mr. Ward in IL. The ADA working the case has modified our sentence recommendation based on this information,” Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper told CBS 58 in January.

“This defendant is no stranger to the criminal justice system,” prosecutor Michele Hulgaard said in court this week. “He was sent to prison in Illinois on two separate occasions for this type of offense.”

Last year, Pastor Dave was sentenced in Ozaukee and Winnebago Counties for ripping off two couples, but because prosecutors didn’t know about his lengthy record, he only got probation.

“It was terrible,” Barbara Read said.

Barbara Read and her husband Charlie, a World War II Veteran, were the victims in Ozaukee County. Back in 2016 Pastor Dave took thousands from them, ripped up their deck and then disappeared. At the time they shared their story with CBS 58

“I’m 90 now and to be out there [on the deck] is about all I can do,” Charlie told CBS 58 at the time.

Charlie died last year and was never able to see a resolution in the case.

“It was terrible,” Barbara said. “It’s the last thing you want to deal with when your husband is aging rapidly, failing.”

In Waukesha County Court, Pastor Dave told Judge Aprahamian he’s sorry and just bad with money.

“I made poor financial choices,” Pastor Dave said.


The judge didn’t buy it.

“You have a record that goes back decades for doing this type of thing,” said Judge Aprahamian. “This isn’t a surprise. You walk like a duck, you talk like a duck, you’re a duck. And what’s the duck? You’re a thief.”

Pastor Dave was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of extended supervision, but the judge stayed the sentence. So instead, Pastor Dave will spend a year in jail and five years on probation.

“What’s it going to take to protect the community from you doing something like this again?” Judge Aprahamian asked in court. “I don’t know maybe It’s a tattoo on your forehead. I’m a thief, I defraud people. Don’t trust me.”

The judge made it clear the only reason ward’s not heading straight to prison is so the victims can get restitution.

“I read the letter from the victim and he wants his money!” Judge Aprahamian said. “He wants to make sure you’re working so he can get paid.”

Ward owes $23,000 in Waukesha County alone.

“Prison is where he belongs, but those people, they’re due the restitution,” Wachholz said.

Some victims, though, just want Pastor Dave locked up because they’re skeptical he’ll ever repay his debts.

“He has not paid me a nickel,” Read said. “Not a slim nickel. Nothing.”

Read says she’s moved on, but still hopes one day she’ll see that money.

“I could hold up the check and say look, Charlie, we got it,” Read said. “Finally.”

In the meantime, when Pastor Dave is released in a year, he is ordered to work, pay restitution and is not allowed to work as a contractor or subcontractor.

“If you violate the terms of probation you’re going away for a long time,” Judge Aprahamian said as Pastor Dave was led away in handcuffs.

In addition to the thousand he owes Read and the Waukesha victims, Pastor Dave owes more than $40,000 in civil suits here Wisconsin, and more than $50,000 in Illinois.

In Court Ward also told the judge he’s selling his house and will use the money to pay back the Waukesha victim.

Barbara says he made that same promise last year in Ozaukee County court.

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