Christian charity director pleads guilty to filing false tax return

The former director of a Christian charity admitted embezzling over $475,000 to pay for his sex addiction on Monday. The Cedar Rapids man, Jon S. Petersen, was the president of World Ambassadors, a group that provides international students with religious outreach on college campuses.

Nonprofit status for the group was revoked in 2010 by the IRS after repeatedly failing to file required annual financial statements on income and spending.

Petersen admitted diverting over $114,000 in World Ambassadors donations to his personal bank account.

Petersen started the charity in 1993 with his wife. He faces a three-year mandatory minimum sentence without possibility of parole, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to one year supervised release. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Petersen faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in federal prison without the possibility of parole, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 1 year supervised release following any imprisonment. The judge has not set a sentencing date.

Photo by Jim Hammer
Photo by Jim Hammer

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


Iowa City Book Festival

Oct. 18-24

A celebration of books, writing and ideas

Find Out More


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.