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Silvia Pavlof February 16, 2023 3 min read
Church Employee Embezzles About $600K to Fuel Gambling Addiction
A former business manager of a Catholic church in Indianapolis has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for committing wire fraud
Fox 7 reported that the woman, Marie Carson, was found to have transferred a sum of around $573,836.59 from the church’s business accounts to her own personal bank accounts, according to court documents covering a period between 2008 and 2021. The US Department of Justice, however, stated that the actual monetary loss was much higher.
Fraudster Scheme Has Been Going on for Over 13 Years
Marie Carson, aged 72, admitted to having started the scheme back in 2004, and the DOJ believes that the final amount of money she embezzled is greater than what was discovered.
Carson’s greed led her and her husband to use a significant amount of the stolen money for casino gambling and a month-long annual vacation to Florida. In response to Carson’s actions, Herbert J. Stapleton, FBI Indianapolis special agent in charge, warned that the FBI and its partners would continue to identify and investigate those who engage in illegal schemes and hold them accountable.
During the court proceedings, it was stated by Zachary A. Myers, the United States attorney for the southern district of Indiana, that the defendant had been involved in embezzling funds from the church and school for over thirteen years while in a position of trust.
According to Myers, the defendant had prioritized her desire for luxurious vacations over the principles of criminal law and the teachings of her religious institution, which emphasize the importance of refraining from stealing. The sentencing delivered to the defendant was intended to send a strong message to any individuals who may be contemplating similar crimes, as they will be pursued, prosecuted, and held responsible for their actions.
Carson’s Crime Uncovered by Substitute Employee
As the church’s business manager, Marie Carson was responsible for processing checks from parishioners, handling financial transactions on behalf of the church and school, and managing the parish’s finances. She managed to keep the scheme going by falsifying entries in the database used by the parish to track payments.
In November of 2021, suspicious activity was detected in the parish’s gaming account when a temporary replacement discovered unauthorized transfers to an external bank account. The discovery prompted an investigation, which uncovered a complex scheme of embezzlement involving multiple transfers of funds by Carson and the creation of a fraudulent account in the church’s name. These revelations brought to light the extent of Carson’s wrongdoing and the damage caused by her actions.
Carson’s sentencing was presided over by US District Court Judge Chief Tanya Walton Pratt, who also ordered that she be supervised by the US Probation Office for two years following her release from federal prison and that she pays the full amount stolen in restitution.