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Backed by findings from a forensic documents expert, the daughter of late Faith Temple Pentecostal Church founder Rosemary "Mama" Cosby is alleging forgery fueled the transfer of a fortune in property to her mother's widower and current church leader Robert C. Cosby.
Quitclaim deeds involving those properties, which purportedly cleared the way for more than $850,000 in loans later obtained by Robert Cosby, contained what appeared to be Mama Cosby's signatures.
Cazares, who led roughly 200 of Faith Temple's 400 members in a split last April over Robert Cosby's leadership and business practices, has challenged the authenticity of the documents since launching a probate action last summer.
Now, so does now-independent forensic document examiner George J. Throckmorton, who was with the state Attorney General's Office when he unveiled Mark Hofmann's trade in historical forgeries. Hofmann remains in prison for setting two fatal pipe bombs in October 1985 to distract attention from what had been his lucrative business in bogus, mostly Mormon-related documents.
Throckmorton compared the signatures on the four quitclaim deeds with signatures known to be Mama Cosby's -- such as those recorded in a 1980 tax return, a Faith Temple baptism certificate, two marriage certificates and other documents -- in finding reason to challenge the deeds' legitimacy.
"None of the four questioned signatures appear to be genuine signatures of Rosemary Cosby," Throckmorton stated in a report included with the suit. "They all appear to be simulated forgeries written by someone who has access to or is familiar with the known writing style of [Mama] Cosby."
Throckmorton said he was unable to identify the real authors of the signatures on the deeds, "but there are strong indications that more than one person was responsible for writing them."
The civil suit seeks to assign responsibilities for the alleged forgeries to Robert Cosby and church member and financial officer Annie L. Johnson, "and-or [their] agents, servants and-or employees."
Neither Cosby, 45, who married his step-granddaughter, the former Mary Martha Harris, 25, last September, nor Johnson could be reached for comment Friday. Calls to church offices and Cosby's home in Sandy went unanswered.
J. Bruce Reading, the pastor's attorney, said he had not yet read the complaint and therefore could not answer questions about its charges.
The civil suit seeks the setting aside of the deeds and the award of the properties to Cazares as a representative of her mother's estate, along with unspecified damages to be determined at a jury trial.
Prior to her death, Mama Cosby had woven herself into the tapestry of local religious legend. Feeling called to preach in Utah, she set out with her four small children by foot and bus from Indianapolis in 1961. Not long after her arrival, the fiery evangelist was holding meetings in her house.
She founded Faith Temple in 1968, marrying Robert Cosby, a man nearly 20 years her junior, in 1975. Seven years later, the couple relocated the church to its current location at 1510 S. Richards St. in Salt Lake City.
Mama Cosby presided over a multi-million dollar empire of businesses and property when she died. Debate over how Robert Cosby and Johnson handled that estate led to probate litigation by Cazares and her brother, Ernest Walton.
The two also want a full accounting from Robert Cosby and Johnson for what they say is a fortune in jewelry, furniture and luxury cars left behind by their mother.