A former church bookkeeper who may have embezzled nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars during a five-year period escaped prison after pleading guilty and agreeing to repay a portion of the money.
Assistant Solicitor Ricky Todd said 28-year-old Elizabeth Brown entered a guilty plea to the charge of breach of trust with fraudulent intent in excess of $10,000 in court last week.
She was sentenced to five years but that was suspended to 18 months probation and she was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $100,000.
Todd said as part of the agreement the restitution had to be paid immediately.
Brown was arrested in April 2012, five months after an investigation was launched into missing money from Herbert United Methodist Church in Kensington.
According to the arrest warrant, Brown is accused of taking $240,340.18 between July 21, 2005 and November 2011. The amount taken was determined through a forensic audit.
Brown, the warrant states, was “responsible for handling the church’s everyday finances.”
In November 2011, deputies met with leaders of the Forest Avenue church who said the missing funds were discovered after the church received word the dues have not been paid to the church conference. They said after reviewing bank records, they discovered money has been taken from the church for several years.
At that time they told investigators they felt Brown was responsible. They said she wrote herself several checks for unknown amounts over a five-year period, an incident report states.
Deputies were also told bank records from 2011 were missing from the church office.
“She never said what she did with the money,” Todd commented.
By Scott Harper
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