Bethlehem woman accused of embezzling parent group and church

| September 26, 2010

A Bethlehem woman took $18,000 from the East Hills Middle School Parent Association and tried to cover up the theft by stealing $13,000 from her church, police said.

Donna F. Biggs, 40, of 2890 Fifth St., who was treasurer of the parent association until May of this year, was charged Friday with theft and forgery for allegedly engaging in a 14-month embezzlement scheme.

From June 2009 until August 2010, Biggs allegedly diverted $18,854 from the parent association's bank account to her own accounts, and used cash from the Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem to disguise the thefts.

The parent association asked Biggs to turn over all receipts and bank statements in May, but it was not until August that she complied, according to the Bethlehem police arrest affidavit.

Even then, the records revealed she had just opened a new bank account containing $14,115, on Aug. 19, in the parent association's name, the affidavit says. The money in that account allegedly came from her own bank account and from the church.

The president and board of the parent association asked city Patrolman Mark A. Surber, a school resource officer, to investigate. Surber worked with Lafayette Ambassador Bank to sort out the accounting, according to the affidavit.

Surber found that Biggs regularly provided the parent association with faked bank statements because the authentic statements would have revealed she was writing unauthorized checks to herself, the affidavit says.

The Rev. Eugene Sharkey, pastor of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran, said Biggs had no permission to transfer church money to the parent association, police said.

Biggs was arraigned Friday on charges of theft, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, forgery and receiving stolen property. District Judge James J. Narlesky of Bethlehem released her on $50,000 unsecured bail.

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Category: Church Security

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