The family of a disabled veteran who died in 2020 has settled their lawsuit against a prominent Long Beach pastor convicted of stealing almost $100,000 from him.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. In an email, the veteran’s daughter, Sounmi Campbell, said the agreement “recovered what rightfully belonged to my father’s estate and heirs.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2022, shortly after Rev. Misi Tagaloa, of the Second Samoan Congregational Church near Downtown Long Beach, pleaded no contest to felony theft from an elder dependent.

Prosecutors accused Tagaloa of taking control of the finances of a homeless Air Force Veteran in his 60s. The man, Phillip Campbell, met Tagaloa through homeless services offered at the church, according to court records. Phillip Campbell, who was schizophrenic, began living at a home next to the church, and Tagaloa began managing his finances, including a $2,900 monthly VA benefit, according to prosecutors.


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Tagaloa was obligated to spend that money on Phillip Campbell, but prosecutors alleged he instead used tens of thousands of dollars on questionable purchases, including $11,305 to pay off Tagaloa’s credit cards; at least $11,000 in rent, donations and tithes to Tagaloa’s church; $3,319 in cash withdrawals; $5,506 to an online stock-trading service; and thousands of dollars spent at clothing and apparel stores.

Even before news of his criminal case made headlines, Tagaloa was known to many people in Long Beach because of his long-running homelessness ministry and his two unsuccessful runs for City Council.

In their wrongful death lawsuit, the Campbell family alleged the pastor neglected Phillip Campell while his “mental, psychological and physical health declined in plain sight.”

When Phillip Campbell went missing in 2017, his family began searching for him, and Tagaloa failed to inform them he’d been found and was safe at a convalescent hospital in Gardena, the lawsuit alleged.

“What I will say and will continue to believe is that the acts of the Pastor against our father was beyond deceitful and egregious,” Sounmi Campbell said in an email.

Tagaloa and an attorney representing him did not respond to messages from the Long Beach Post.

Tagaloa previously defended his actions, saying he thought he was doing what was in Phillip Campbell’s best interests.

“I made some mistakes, but it doesn’t make me a bad person,” he said during his sentencing hearing in 2022.

Court records show the pastor is currently on probation for his conviction in the criminal case, and as a part of his sentence, he is not allowed to be a trustee or guardian of any veterans.

Sounmi Campbell said she hopes the lawsuit settlement brings more attention to Tagaloa’s past deeds because she worries he “will continue his criminal ways.”

A file photo of the Second Samoan Congregational Church is reflected off a pool of water as the water at Seventh Street between Cedar Avenue and Chestnut Avenue in Long Beach on Dec. 4, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

Tagaloa is still listed as the pastor on the Second Samoan Church’s website.

After his criminal conviction, there was never any discussion among the church board to remove Tagaloa as the pastor, the board’s secretary said in February, according to a deposition transcript reviewed by the Post.

“It never crossed our mind,” she said, according to the transcript.

“Pastor Misi,” she explained later in the transcript, “He preach[es]. The church, the parishioners, we’re just members of the church.”

Attorneys representing the church did not respond to questions from the Post.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.