Ex-church director is found guilty of embezzlement

| March 2, 2013

STAUNTON — Hired in 2004, Denise Y. Thornton began stealing money that same year from the Bethel Presbyterian Church, where her husband was a pastor.

The thefts continued in earnest for five years until a church audit turned up numerous financial discrepancies.

On Tuesday in Augusta County General District Court, Thornton, 45, pleaded guilty to five felony counts of embezzlement.

Thornton is the former assistant director of the church’s preschool program and later became the treasurer of its preschool program.

Thornton’s husband, the Rev. Joel Thornton, was with the church for about eight years before resigning in January 2012. There is no indication that he had knowledge of his wife’s alleged scheme, according to authorities or court records.

In a plea deal, Denise Thornton was given 10 years in prison with all but 30 days suspended. She will serve her 30 days behind bars in a series of weekend stints at the Middle River Regional Jail in Verona.



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Category: Church Security

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