Butler gets 3 years for stealing from church

| April 7, 2010

A former church secretary who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $200,000 from a Concord Township church was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday morning in Highland County Common Pleas Court.

Dennis L. Butler, 68, of Hillsboro, was indicted in November on one count of theft, a third-degree felony, and one count of tampering with records, a third-degree felony. Last month, he pleaded guilty to the theft charge and agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution to the church. The tampering with evidence charge was dismissed by the state.

The indictments indicated a period of five years in which Butler used his position as the church secretary to embezzle thousands of dollars from the church.

On Tuesday, Butler’s attorney, David Pence, told the court that Butler had become addicted to gambling at slot machines and thought he could “replace the money from the church.”

“He has not played since September of 2009 and is involved with Gamer’s Anonymous,” Pence said. “This was not a crime of violence. Mr. Butler has not put the state through the cost of prosecuting him. He has been straightforward and honest and never denied any charges … once he started to be questioned, he said that telling the truth was a big relief for his soul.”

Butler then addressed the court, apologizing to his family and the church.

“The problem that I have (gambling), unless someone has gone through it, it’s hard to understand what caused me to do this,” he said. “I’ve ruined my life. And more importantly, I’ve ruined the confidence and trust of the people around me. For that I’m deeply, deeply sorry.”

Visiting Fayette County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard said that factors in the crime, including Butler’s position at the church, made the offense more serious.

“This is more serious because of the serious economic harm to the victim, the fact that Mr. Butler held a position of trust as the treasurer … and the fact that he used his relationship with the church to facilitate his criminal conduct,” Beathard said. “In fact, there are no factors in this case to make (the charge) less serious.”

Butler was then sentenced to three years in prison and was ordered to reimburse the church in the amount of $200,000.



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Category: Church Security