When a recent parish assessment project at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, showed an apparent misappropriation of funds, church officials turned to local police to launch an investigation.
Embezzlement Investigation at Church
Edmond police say that they are investigating a report of embezzlement of a church employee, whose identity has not been publicly confirmed by either police or the church. During the assessment, church officials determined that nearly $110,000 has been embezzled from the church since 2004.
According to an email statement sent to local media by the church: "During a recent parish assessment project, a possible misappropriation of church funds by a church employee was discovered. In consultation with the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, an independent CPA firm was retained to conduct a review of certain books and records of the church to ascertain what had actually happened.
While the CPA firm's review was limited to certain accounts and records of the church, it did confirm the misuse of church funds. Accordingly, a report has been filed with the Edmond Police Department. It is now in their hands to investigate and take such actions as they deem appropriate."
Embezzlement Definition in Oklahoma
Embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent appropriation of funds entrusted to one's care but actually belonging to someone else. Under Oklahoma law, penalties are dependent on the severity of the crime:
- Funds or property valued at less than $500 - punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $1000
- Funds or property valued between $500 and $1000 - punishable by up to one year in jail, fine of up to $5,000, and restitution to the victim
- Funds or property valued between $1,000 and $25,000 - punishable by up to five years in prison, fine of up to $5,000, and restitution to the victim
- Funds or property exceeding $25,000 - punishable by up to ten years in prison, fine of up to $10,000, and restitution to the victim
While many people think of embezzlement as involving complex schemes for funneling money for personal use, the fact is that it can be much more simple. It includes actions such as skimming from cash registers, using office equipment such as laptops or company cars for personal use, and falsifying time cards.
If are suspected of misappropriating business funds or property, you face serious penalties. Immediately contact an Oklahoma City embezzlement defense attorney for help.