Accused embezzler now charged with ripping off church

| June 5, 2010

A criminal charge against a woman in September got her employers thinking they might want to double-check their own bank account — a search that revealed they, too, were missing money.

Rachel Brooke McDonald, 34, was charged with a second count of theft in connection with $23,659 that turned up missing from the First United Methodist Church at 909 Tenth St. Her bond was set at $150,000 and she was being held in the Wichita County Jail Friday.

The charge came about after an investigation last year led to McDonald’s arrest on charges of taking more than $130,000 from YTO-USA when she was employed there as a bookkeeper, said Detective Chris Gay.

YTO-USA is a distribution center that operated out of a portion of the former Delphi plant on Interstate 44.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit:

A representative for the church alerted police on Jan. 15, that money was missing from the church. He said between July 13, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2009, a woman working as a business administrator may have fraudulently taken money.

The representative said McDonald wrote nine checks to herself for a total of about $17,000, took cash deposits, made one bank draft for about $350 to pay an AT&T phone bill and used a church-issued credit card for purchases totaling about $3,300.

“Neither the checks nor the credit card charges were authorized by the church,” the affidavit states.

McDonald was arrested Thursday by the detective who investigated the case, Officer Cory Whited.

In McDonald’s first case, the alleged thefts occurred between May 2008 and June 2009. An October 2009 Matter of Record listing in the Times Record News shows McDonald’s residence was foreclosed on and lists an amount of $204,900.

Talking in general about embezzlement-type crimes, Gay said it is not unusual for there to be repeat offenders with this type of crime. “This is typical. A lot of times, if the offender hasn’t learned their lesson or faced any consequences for it, they will continue. It’s habitual. It’s mental.”

He noted the case in which a woman stole from the Wichita Falls Wildcats hockey team. It was her third theft charge.

“These aren’t people who are using the money to make ends meet, to keep the lights on or the water running. They are doing it to fuel a habit or a lifestyle that is beyond their means,” Gay said.

To avoid becoming a victim of this kind, Gay said there are a couple of steps employers can take. One of the most important steps is getting a background check or contacting a law enforcement agency.

“A lot of these employers won’t check,” he said, “and (criminals) may not put it on the application.”

Another step that can help avoid embezzlement is to maintain a system of checks and balances over the finances.

“They need to have more than one or two people keeping an eye on the money,” he said. Even requiring two signatures does not deter all thieves. “If they are going to forge one, what makes you think they are not going to forge two.”

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Category: Church Security

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