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Ex-bookkeeper for Michigan parish charged with embezzlement

A 63-year-old former bookkeeper at St. Theodore Parish in Westland, Michigan, was arraigned last month on charges of embezzlement of church funds. The woman had worked at the parish for 25 years and held various business-related positions in her time at the church, including parish administrator and business manager.

She was laid off last year, having working there from 1986 to 2011, Archdiocese of Detroit officials said. After she left, the archdiocese conducted an audit of the parish's finances. Auditors discovered what the archdiocese called questionable transactions involving the now-former employee.

Police said that they initially suspected the woman of stealing more than $140,000 from the church. However, the parish's former priest told them during the investigation that he had authorized the vast majority of the transactions--all but about $13,000. That priest has since been reassigned to a different parish, and he said that he would not talk about the case.

According to the criminal complaint against the former bookkeeper, she is alleged to have used more than $18,000 to pay for the rent on a mobile home lot for her son. The son was also a part-time employee of the parish. Police say that the audit also alleges that the woman used some of the missing money to pay bills for her relatives and for herself.

The embezzlement charges could lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of three times the amount embezzled or $15,000, whichever is greater. Anyone suspected of crimes such as these often consult a qualified criminal defense attorney to ensure that their rights are protected throughout the process.

Source: The Detroit News, "Former St. Theodore bookkeeper charged with taking $13K," Oralandar Brand-Williams, Jan. 4, 2011

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