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Church finance manager found guilty of stealing over half a million

by Lydia Davies

Heather Darrey, a former finance manager at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida, has confessed to embezzling $775,000 (£608,065) through fraudulent means.

This allegedly involved "destroy[ing] the authorised printed bank checks" and substituting them with "new handwritten bank checks in the same amounts as the legitimate ones but made payable to her personal accounts and creditors," as detailed in her plea agreement.

Upon discovery of her scheme, Darrey implored the church, "not contact the authorities and press charges," after admitting to a lesser theft than was eventually uncovered.

The plea deal she agreed to includes "a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment," among other penalties, and mandates Darrey to reimburse the stolen funds.

The diocese responded to the incident in a statement by stating that Christ the King Catholic Church had been "the victim of a complex financial crime," reassuring that "no parishioner's personal financial information was compromised while this criminal activity took place."

Tom Lichtenberger from Brotherhood Mutual highlighted the creative yet deceptive tendencies within church theft, noting, "Often, church people can't bring themselves to believe of the most trusted people in the church who's pilfering from the collection plate."

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