Pittsburgh woman sentenced to prison for coercing church ministry into forced labor

CHICAGO — A self-appointed bishop of a Pittsburgh church ministry was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for a forced labor and fraud scheme.

Tracie Dickey, also known as “Tracie Williams,” 57, was sentenced on wire fraud and labor trafficking charges after officials say she forced church members to work certain jobs, pocketed their earnings and directed them to defraud various hotels.

Dickey was a self-appointed bishop of Deliverance Tabernacle Ministries, an organization she founded that proclaimed to offer faith-based services in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

She also supposedly operated a travel agency known as World Ambassador Travel. Officials said Dickey recruited young women to become members of the ministry and directed them to work multiple jobs, including as desk clerks at hotels. She instructed the members on how to have the hotels pay reservation-commission fees to Dickey’s travel agency, even though her agency never actually booked reservations on behalf of the hotel guests. The hotel scheme resulted in at least $66,525 in fraudulent proceeds, according to a news release.

She also emotionally and physically abused the members and coerced them into following her rules, by starving and humiliating church members, forcing some of them into homelessness, and threatening that God would harm their families if they did not comply with her rules. Several of Dickey’s victims testified at trial about their ordeals, according to the release.