Former church secretary pleads guilty to theft

| April 27, 2010

GREENFIELD — Nancy M. Williams, the Greenfield woman arrested in December on charges of allegedly stealing more than $40,000 from St. Benignus Catholic Church in Greenfield, pleaded guilty recently to a fourth-degree felony count of theft.

Williams, 55 at the time she was charged, had worked as the church treasurer since 2004. She was originally charged with a fourth-degree felony count of grand theft and a fourth-degree felony count of tampering with records for allegedly stealing $40,211 from the church over a six-year period. Her sentencing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 23 in Highland County Common Pleas Court.

Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Grandey said that in exchange for Williams guilty plea, the state will recommend she be placed on community control and be ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution to the church.

“We had a meeting with the parish representative and the police and what she agreed to pay back was what we could prove, so we knew we had a slam dunk,” Grandey said.

Grandey said the church’s archdiocese agreed with the negotiated plea. He also said changes to the charges do not make any difference because Williams was originally charged with fourth-degree felonies and pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony.

However, Grandey said that if Williams fails to pay the $18,000 prior to her sentencing date, the sentence will likely change.

Father Mike Paraniuk, who pastors both St. Benignus and St. Mary Catholic Church in Hillsboro, said the church has already forgiven Williams and moved on.

“The people of St. Benignus are very good Christians,” Paraniuk said. “We simply commend her to the mercy of God. If she were repentant and asked for forgiveness, we would have no trouble with her coming to our church.”

Williams had also been a longtime technology coordinator for the Greenfield Exempted Village Schools. McClain High School Principal Dr. Dan Strain said she was placed on administrative leave once the school learned of the charges against her. He said the school board will now have to make a decision on how to proceed, in consultation with the district’s attorneys.

“An investigation was done and we did not find any problems with her work history,” Strain said.

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Category: Church Security

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