Posted: 9:43 am Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Willie Gary defends Bishop Ray: We don’t want to fight. If we have to, we’ll fight 

By Andrew Abramson

Could high-profile attorney Willie Gary be going after the city following its findings that Bishop Harold Ray misappropriated millions of dollars in his program to build low income homes in Coleman Park?

It’s possible, Gary said, at a press conference this morning with Ray and other leaders from both Redemptive Life Fellowship Church and Redemptive Life Urban Initiatives, a non-profit associated with Ray’s 600-member church in West Palm Beach.

“We don’t want to fight,” Gary said. “If we have to, we’ll fight.” Ray and Gary were joined at the press conference, held Wednesday morning at Redemptive Life Fellowship Church, by many of the key players in Ray’s housing projects, including Jose Acosta of Acosta Construction, Donald Minor of Dominion Realty, Chief Operating Office Earl Hamilton. Elaine James, attorney for the church and former wife of city commissioner Keith James (who served as an attorney for the Redemptive Life Urban Initatives), was also at the press conference.

Ray said he has been trying to work with the city, and he blamed many of the city’s accusations on a new housing department staff trying to interpret things differently that previously staffs.

Ray said he built 30 homes, 27 of which were sold, and that he never stole any money. He said the intense media scrutiny has “turned our lives into absolute whirlwind and caused my family to suffer in ways I wouldn’t even take my time to respond.”

There will be more later. For now, read today’s Post story about HUD going after West Palm for money, and the previous story about how this all began.

Bishop Ray (left) and Willie Gary (right) this morning at Redemptive Life Fellowship Brandon Kruse, Palm Beach Post