A controversial pastor evicted from several neighborhoods for running illegal halfway houses was arrested this week and ordered to shut down a combination church, homeless shelter and drug rehab center he was operating in a residential Las Vegas neighborhood.
Police arrested Darryl Willhite, pastor of Krystal Light Ministries, Wednesday along with a male employee and two female residents of the four-bedroom home near Horse Drive and Bradley Road at the northern edge of Las Vegas.
Willhite -- who has a lengthy rap sheet including arrests for forgery, burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia -- was booked on a misdemeanor warrant for failing to update his address with authorities, a requirement for convicted felons. He spent the night in the city jail, posted $190 bail and was released Thursday morning, police said.
His employee, Jerrold W. Macon, 40, was arrested on a felony warrant for intent to sell marijuana and was in the Clark County jail on $10,000 bail. The two women were arrested on minor warrants, police said.
City code enforcement officials also on Wednesday served Willhite a "nuisance notice" and an order to stop using the home as a church, shelter and halfway house without proper permits.
City and police officials said the arrest and nuisance notice were part of a concerted effort to get Willhite out of the neighborhood. His halfway house has drawn complaints from neighbors annoyed by large late-night Bible-study classes and throngs of people coming and going. Up to 20 people were living in the home at one time.
"Everybody has been collectively working on this," Councilman Steve Ross said Thursday. "I made a commitment to homeowners who live next to this house that I would do everything it takes to get him out of there."
Willhite, 44, has a history of opening illegal halfway houses in rental homes in Nevada and Arizona, where he has collected zoning citations and complaints from neighbors before finally moving on.
Residents who have lived in Willhite's houses said he recruits people from the downtown homeless corridor. He collects $400 a month in rent from residents, and asks those who cannot afford it to contribute portions of their food stamps. He also requires residents to participate in fundraisers, such as car washes, to benefit the ministry.
The residents asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted by Willhite.
"This fellow is preying on the unfortunate, the down-on-their-luck," Ross said.
Several neighbors of the house on Ghost Rider Court have declined to comment. One neighbor said they learned about Willhite's past and are scared of him.
Willhite did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
In 2005, Willhite was evicted from a rental home on Chapman Drive, near the intersection of Maryland Parkway and Oakey Boulevard, for operating an illegal halfway house.
Then, in early 2006, Willhite ran into trouble at Henderson's Sun City Anthem senior community after moving 16 people into a two-bedroom house there. Neighbors spotted people sleeping on mattresses in the backyard.
The pastor and his friends solicited donations from nearby businesses for his ministry. He claimed those donations were tax-deductible despite the ministry not being registered as a nonprofit group, police said. A neighborhood Starbucks donated nearly $1,700 in pastries to the group.
A Henderson SWAT team raided the home. Willhite and two of his associates were arrested on forgery and fraud charges.
After an article about the incident appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Willhite seemingly disappeared for a while. He resurfaced in late 2007 in Tucson, Ariz., where he set up three halfway houses in rented homes, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Three weeks after the Daily Star ran a story on Willhite, he disappeared again. A zoning hearing for violations at two of the houses was canceled after he cleared out.
Willhite moved his operation to Ghost Rider Court in February, neighbors said. He also has been moving people into a rented four-plex on Koval Lane near Tropicana Avenue, according to residents.
Earlier this month Willhite told the Review-Journal he was working out zoning issues with the city and planned to stay in the Las Vegas Valley.
"All I'm doing is trying to help people," he said. "I'm a humble man. I'm not looking for any publicity."
Willhite refused to talk about his past or the details of his ministry.
"I'm not a stupid man," he said. "I'm not interested in being interviewed by you or anybody."
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@review journal.com or 702-383-0285.