Previously discussed the alleged embezzlement at a church in my area in this post. I’m sad to report the word alleged can now be dropped from the story. The local newspaper reported today the accused changed his plea from not guilty to no-contest. There are some subtle legal differences between a no-contest plea and a guilty plea, but the practical impact on the criminal trial is minimal. I read the publicly available court documents which don’t add any detail beyond the newspaper article. (yes, the basic documents for all criminal, traffic, and civil cases are available on-line with just a few mouse clicks.)
The newspaper article says there is a plea bargain agreement calling for 3 years probation and $25,000 restitution. The DA on the case said the restitution figure is not higher because he would not have been able to prove (presumably he is referring to the beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt level of proof) that the bookkeeper stole the alleged amount of $750,000.
It is worth mentioning again that I do not know anything about the case beyond what is available through an internet search.
A few thoughts. This shows through a very sad situation that it is important to develop and enforce good internal controls. It is not for fun and entertainment that accountants insist on all those silly procedures you hear about all the time. We fuss about those things because we want to prevent this kind of tragedy.
If you are inclined to do so, please pray for the bookkeeper, his family, the church leadership, and the members of the church.
I’ll have more to say about this situation for several reasons. First, the story is public information. Second, I do not know anything about the case other than what I have already mentioned in these posts. For those reasons this situation is different from many others I have had professional involvement with in the past. I can’t discuss those other situations beyond vague, sanitized platitudes because of the confidentiality restrictions I willingly comply with. So, this is a case for which I have no confidentiality restrictions and therefore am free to pontificate.