Former church treasurer charged with embezzlement

| February 23, 2010

The former treasurer of Fifth Creek Presbyterian Church faces 11 charges of embezzlement after discrepancies were discovered in the finances of the church, Iredell County Sheriff Phil Redmond said Monday.

Debra Driskill Bunton, 52, of Statesville also faces one count of financial transaction card fraud.

Redmond said two representatives from the church contacted the sheriff's office earlier this month after discrepancies were found in the church's finances. One of the two was the recently named treasurer, who took over for Bunton. She had been treasurer for four years, Redmond said.

Church representatives reported they discovered questionable debit card transactions involving the church's checking account, Redmond said. That card was issued to Bunton in her role as treasurer.

The church's bank statements were checked and compared to the computer ledger for the church, and it appears ledger entries made it appear the purchases were for legitimate reasons but the bank statements were different Redmond said.

Bunton told the church staff that the card was lost or stolen from her sometime the first week of January, Redmond said.

Detective Sgt. Allen Sipes of the white collar/economic crime unit began an investigation, and found that during the time between when Bunton said the card was lost or stolen and Jan. 6, when the new treasurer took over, there were numerous transactions totaling more than $2,000, Sipes said.

Food Lion and Wal-Mart were two of the most frequent locations where the card was used, he said.

Video surveillance from the two stores was obtained and the suspect matched Bunton's description, Sipes said.

Sipes said he interviewed Bunton, who at first denied using the card, but changed her story when she was told of the surveillance footage. She admitted she altered the church ledger, Sipes said.

As a result of this investigation, Bunton was charged.

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Category: Church Security

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