A former daycare director at a macon church has been charged with more than 400 counts of forgery and theft. Right now, Paula Cowan is out on bond for one count of theft back in 2008 when the investigation first started. But as the investigation grew, so did the charges against her.
Page after Page of copies of forged checks will be used as evidence against Cowan, who is the former director of daycare at Riverside United Methodist Church in Macon.
An arraignment date for Cowan to plead guilty or not guilty has not been set. If the case goes to trial and if she is found guilty on all counts, prosecutors say she could face up to 5,500 years behind bars, along with paying back the stolen money.
CHINO, Calif. — Prosecutors say the former administrator of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills embezzled nearly $1 million.
Farrukh Ahmed has been charged with felony grand theft with embezzlement and felony grand theft of personal property. The 48-year-old Ontario man was arrested in December and he posted $50,000 bail.
Calvary Chapel pastor Jack Hibbs says up to $960,000 was stolen from the church.
Carpenter’s Chapel Inc., a church on Dogwood Road in Solway, has filed suit in Knox County Chancery Court against former pastor Hobart Randalls “Randy” Tinch, alleging he robbed church coffers of $347,000 during his 19-year tenure there. Attorney Steve Shope, who is representing the church, said information gleaned from an audit of the church’s books will be turned over to authorities for a criminal probe. Tinch, who lives in Oak Ridge, could not be reached for comment.
Shope described Tinch as a “charismatic” figure who used church offerings to support a lavish lifestyle that included pricey cars and expensive trips. The church was unaware of Tinch’s alleged thievery until he stepped down as pastor in January 2008, when a resulting audit by a certified public accountant uncovered the misappropriation, Shope said.
The former secretary of the Mount Holly Springs United Methodist Church pleaded guilty today in Cumberland County Court to embezzling thousands of dollars from the church’s emergency fund for the needy.
Cody Bowling, 23, was charged with stealing the weekly offering at Lynn Valley Baptist Church has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound over to a Carter County grand jury Friday.
Cody Bowling, was also bound over on several other burglaries, some of them in his Blevins Hollow neighborhood and one going back to 2007.
Cody Bowling is accused of taking $3,419 in cash and checks from the Jan. 10 offering of the Lynn Valley Baptist Church congregation. The burglary was discovered Jan. 11. Two laptop computers were also stolen. Five doors and a safe were also damaged in the burglary.
Raymond Smyth, a former top official of the Society of St. Vincent dePaul, a charity affiliate of the Buffalo Diocese, pleaded guilty this afternoon to stealing $324,388 of its funds before he resigned from the organization last September.
Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio did not give Smyth, 44, a sentencing commitment but allowed him to remain free without bail with the agreement of prosecutors pending his June 14 sentencing.
Smyth, who was chief financial officer of the Main Street charity for 19 years prior to his resignation, pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree grand larceny and signed a confession of judgment for the full amount of his embezzlement.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III and John C. Doscher, chief of the DA’s Special Investigations Bureau, said Smyth admitted illegally using society credit cards from July 1, 2002 through last Aug. 31.
The prosecutors said Smyth, of Delaware Avenue, pleaded guilty before indictment to the highest charge a grand jury could have lodged against him for the thefts. Smyth, who faces a possible prison term of up to 15 years, declined comment following his plea proceeding.
The Catholic priest who stole from his parish is locked up in the Monmouth County Jail. The Rev. joseph Hughes pleaded for leniency from Superior Court Judge Better Uhrmacher which was denied. Instead the Superior Judge sentence Rev. Hughes to five years in prison.
Rev Hughes pleaded guilty last month to taking in excess of $75,000 in parish money. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office put the figure at $2,032,422. Rev. Hughes never plead guilty to stealing the full amount, however, he did agree as part of his plea deal to repay it. Rev Hughes also agreed to pay $120,229 to the state in back taxes. Question: What policies and procedures do you have in place to protect your church from embezzlement? Who counts the offering and who verifies it? When is the offering counted and is it maintained under a secured area with CCTV and card access? Does your church require that all church checks require two signatures?
The Rev. Robert Chukwu shook hands and mingled in the Crawford County courtroom Monday before his name was called.
The Catholic priest stared forward and pressed his lips together for most of his preliminary hearing as the district attorney laid out a felony theft case that accuses him of stealing about $200,000 from two Crawford County parishes and the Diocese of La Crosse. Chukwu, who wore his clerical collar to court, stood mute as a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Chukwu sent money to priests, a nun, a school and family in Nigeria between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2009, according to the criminal complaint. He holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Nigeria and had been assigned to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Gays Mills and St. Phillip’s Catholic Church in Soldiers Grove.
Chukwu, 59, spent $6,000 in 2008 to buy and mail a 40-foot container filled with $100,000 in artificial flowers, candlesticks, pedestal tables and other merchandise to Nigeria for profit, the complaint stated. Chukwu already spent $50,000 filling another shipment. Money from the 2007 flood damage “was probably the primary source” of the money, diocesan clergy liaison the Rev. Joseph Hirsch testified. Chukwu used the parishes’ debit cards to purchase the items, said diocesan financial officer Sondra Rieder.
Chukwu told Hirsch and diocesan attorney Jim Birnbaum during a Dec. 17 meeting he also invested money in Nigeria for a better interest rate than the diocese offered.
“He said he knew it wasn’t following protocol of the diocese,” Hirsch testified. The diocese hired an independent accounting firm in December to review parish books when it noticed excessive long distance telephone charges, Rieder said. She said Chukwu disbanded the parishes’ finance councils before she was silenced by an objection.
Auditor Sandy Jensen said she discovered about $200,000 in debit card transactions without invoices. About $100,000 was reimbursed to the account. Jensen also discovered money orders signed by Chukwu for $5,500 to a shipping company and $9,000 to a priest in Texas. Chukwu, who is free on a $25,000 signature bond, returns to court April 7 for a status hearing.
A Rowan County clergy member has been charged with embezzling money from a religious organization over a two-year period, the Salisbury police say.
Rev. Johnnie Lee Jones, of Concord
The Rev. Johnnie Lee Jones, of Concord, was charged by police with embezzling $20,000 from the Western N.C. Association of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ.Jones had been treasurer of the organization for four years, and police say he admitted the theft – and returned $5,000 of the money – when his term expired earlier this year. He surrendered to police Friday. Police say Jones wrote the checks to an accounting firm he operates in Concord.
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White Plains, NY
Rev. Patrick Dunne, 65 pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny for stealing $432,000 from Our Lady of Sorrows Church. Question: What policies and procedures does your church have in place to prevent this sort of incident?
Pastor admits to swindling $432G from White Plains church