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Church Headed by Controversial Tampa Pastor Burns

Tampa firefighters battled a blaze at a church led by controversial pastor Dr. Henry Lyons.

Officials said Monday the fire broke out at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

New Salem Missionary Baptist Church faced foreclosure in 2011 and filed for bankruptcy the next year.

Lyons was freed from prison in 2003 after serving nearly five years on grand theft and racketeering charges. He was convicted after an investigation revealed Lyons used his leadership role as president of the National Baptist Convention and pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church to steal an estimated $4 million to buy luxury homes, jewelry and support his mistresses.

Lyons' fall came after his wife set fire to a $700,000 waterfront home he co-owned with another woman.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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