Conway woman arrested in church theft

| September 10, 2009

Sarah Buckley, 31, of Conway, a former secretary at First Baptist Church in Maumelle, was arrested Aug. 28 and charged with theft of property.

In the affidavit for a warrant in the case, Maumelle police detective Eli Keller said he went to the church on Aug. 14 to investigate a reported burglary. “The only item that was known to be stolen at the time was the hard drive from the church secretary’s computer,” Keller wrote.

Ten days later, Keller spoke with church deacons Ed McCulloch and James Hays, who told him that the church secretary, Sarah Buckley, had met with church leaders the previous day, Aug. 23, and confessed to taking the hard drive, along with approximately $13,000 over the course of two and half years.

McCulloch told Keller that Buckley returned the hard drive and agreed to pay back the church a sum of $13,000 by the afternoon of Aug. 24.

On Aug. 25, Keller wrote that Buckley “made herself available to me to be interviewed.”

Keller wrote that Buckley said she stole the church’s hard drive because she became nervous when the church announced that it would soon be conducting an audit of the church’s finances because she had been stealing “loose money from the church’s offerings and altering the computer files of donations to cover up the thefts.”

Buckley told Keller she started stealing the money because she had fallen onto hard times, and continued to steal money because it was too easy and she had not been caught. Buckley said she stole money two to four times a month.

Buckley said she began feeling guilt about members of the congregation pointing their fingers at innocent people, so she sent a letter to the church about the theft to draw attention away from innocent parties.

Buckley told Keller she wanted to confess and ask for forgiveness, which is when she went to the church elders.

At the time of the interview, Buckley had already reimbursed the church the sum of $13,000 and had returned the hard drive, Keller wrote, which she reportedly hid in the church’s sound booth.

Church leaders reportedly declined to press charges, according to Keller.

Keller reported that “In light of the information and Mrs. Buckley’s confession,” he was requesting a warrant for one count theft of property.

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Category: Church Security

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