Indiana church worker convicted after stealing $574,000 for gambling, furlough: ‘Fueled by sheer greed’
A 72-year-old Indiana woman will serve two years in federal prison after transferring nearly $574,000 from a Catholic church and associated school to her personal gambling and month-long vacation accounts.
The Justice Department announced Monday that Indianapolis resident Marie Carson has pleaded guilty to wire fraud after 13 years of handling funds as a community executive. FOX 59 Indianapolis identified the parish as Saint Matthew Catholic Church and School.
For over a decade, Carson was the sole employee responsible for processing parishioner checks and conducting financial transactions on behalf of the church and school, court documents said. From 2008 to 2021, she illegally transferred at least $573,836.59.
The DOJ said the actual financial loss is likely much higher, since Carson admitted to church officials that she began her program in 2004.
PENNSYLVANIA WOMAN HAS NEARLY $600,000 FROM SCHOOL FOR FAMILY VACATION INVESTIGATIONS, IVF TREATMENT: DA
The theft was uncovered in November 2021 when Carson was on leave of absence from her position and her temporary replacement noticed suspicious transfers from the community gaming account to an outside bank account, according to the DOJ.
Further investigation of the transactions led to the discovery that over $289,000 had been transferred to multiple accounts, including a phantom account in the name of the church.
Carson was reportedly able to keep the system going for so long because she made false entries in a database used by the municipality to track payments.
The DOJ said Carson and her husband spent a “substantial amount of money” on casino gambling and an annual month-long vacation in Florida.
ALBUQUERQUE WOMAN ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATION OF $175,000 FROM EMPLOYER
“For more than thirteen years, this defendant abused her position of trust to embezzle funds from parishioners intended for a church and school,” said Zachary A. Myers, US Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Her greed and desire for lavish vacations outweighed her interest in following the dictates of our penal laws and the teachings of her church, ‘Thou shalt not steal.'”
Myers added that her ruling sends a “clear message” to those pondering theft, fraud and embezzlement.
“We will find you, you will be prosecuted and held accountable,” Myers concluded.
FBI Indianapolis special agent in charge Herbert J. Stapleton said Carson’s plan was “driven by sheer greed” and that she abused trust to line her own pockets. Stapleton also said her deception ultimately landed her behind bars despite the potential short-term benefits.
In 2022, St. Matthew’s Rev. Msgr. William F. Stumpf notified St. parishioners of the theft, FOX 59 reported. His letter read in part:
“Upon discovering the theft, we implemented new internal accounting controls to ensure all funds are safe. We have taken out fidelity insurance to cover fraud and theft losses and we have received payments to cover the documented loss. We are very sorry to report that these serious events have occurred.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
In addition to her sentence, Carson will serve two years of probation upon her release from prison. Also, she must pay the amount she found guilty of theft as reparations.
https://www.foxnews.com/us/indiana-church-employee-sentenced-stealing-574k-gambling-vacations-fueled-pure-greed Indiana church worker convicted after stealing $574,000 for gambling, furlough: ‘Fueled by sheer greed’