CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

August 17, 2013

Birmingham-area youth pastor charged


Associated Press

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. —

A Jefferson County youth pastor has been charged with impersonating an officer less than a year after he pleaded guilty to a similar charge.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Randy Christian tells local media Matt Pitt has been charged after a June 15 incident. Christian says Pitt was out of town but was expected to turn himself in upon his return. His bond has been set at $15,000.

It was not immediately clear when he would return or whether he had a lawyer.

Pitt, whose full name is Larry Matthew Pitt, is a youth evangelist and the leader of The Basement youth service.

Christian says deputies responded to a call of a man impersonating a law enforcement officer. Deputies were told a resident had seen a suspicious vehicle outside his home and saw people going from the vehicle to a wooded area.

The resident said he went to investigate and tripped over a rifle. He said after he called the sheriff's office, Pitt and another man arrived on an ATV to retrieve the weapon. The resident told them he'd called authorities and asked them about their activity, but Pitt said he was a law enforcement officer.

Pitt is already serving two years probation. He pleaded guilty in September to a charge of attempting to impersonate a peace officer. He was arrested in May 2012 after authorities said he flashed an honorary Jefferson County Sheriff's Office badge at a Calera police officer during a traffic stop. He's also been accused of flashing blue lights from his SUV to get drivers to pull over on the interstate so he could pass them.

Pitt took a two-week hiatus from his post with "The Basement" after his arrest. When he returned to his ministry, he said, "We're not perfect, we're only forgiven," according to ABC 33/40.

The Basement, which Pitt started in the basement of his home in 2004, grew into one of the largest youth ministries in the country. It meets once a month at various venues.

"It is very difficult to believe this has happened a second time but the fact is it did and it must be dealt with," Christian told al.com. "We take no pleasure in announcing an arrest warrant for someone that has had the potential to have such a positive impact on our young people. It is disappointing and hard to understand."