Church secretary bond set at $30K

| August 14, 2009

GREENCASTLE — Despite the state’s objection, Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley on Thursday set bond for a woman accused of stealing over $200,000 from a Greencastle church at $30,000 with 10 percent allowed.

Melynda J. "Mindy" Fenwick, 37, of Greencastle was charged with six counts of Class C felony forgery and five counts of Class D felony theft in connection with incidents that are alleged to have happened over the past several years at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church.

Fenwick had worked part-time at Gobin since 2004 as an administrative and financial secretary. The alleged thefts occurred between January 2005 and August 2009.

Fenwick appeared in court Thursday accompanied by her attorney James Ensley. Fenwick entered not guilty pleas to all charges.

In a typical case involving a Class C felony in which the suspect is a local person, bond is set at $30,000 with 10 percent allowed. Due to circumstances of the case, however, the state was not comfortable with those terms.

"Working with this many counts, we recommend $30,000 cash only," Deputy Prosecutor Justin Long said.

Ensley countered that his client was a lifetime Putnam County resident who had lived at the same address for seven years. He pointed out that Fenwick’s family members are all local, and that several people live in her household — many of them minor children she is responsible for the care of.

"All my ties are in the Putnam County community," Fenwick said.

In the end, Headley chose to allow the lower bond for Fenwick, noting that the state "has shown me no reason she’d be a flight risk."

Headley told Fenwick that should the bond be posted for her, she would have to surrender her passport to the court. He also issued a no-contact order for Gobin, telling Fenwick that she could have no written or verbal contact with anyone affiliated with the church and was not to have anyone besides her lawyer do it for her.

Fenwick is accused of stealing about $274,000 from Gobin. The alleged thefts were uncovered earlier this week when church officials discovered major discrepancies and what appeared to be doctored bank statements during an audit of the church’s books.

Court documents said Fenwick admitted to issuing as many as 100 checks to herself off a church account, as well as to forging signatures on those checks.

She also admitted to falsifying bank documents, court records said.

Gobin plans to hire an independent auditor or accounting firm to investigate the thefts further and to put a plan in place to prevent future incidences of theft.

Headley set a pretrial conference for Fenwick for Oct. 1 at 11 a.m.

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Category: Church Security

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