Joplin woman accused of embezzling from church

| June 25, 2010

JOPLIN, Mo. — The former director of a day camp for a Joplin area church is accused of embezzling more than $12,000 in church funds.

Deborah L. Wills, 51, of Joplin, is facing a Class C felony charge of theft in the disappearance of the money from Christ’s Community United Methodist Church at 2700 E. 44th St. between January 2007 and March of this year.

A probable-cause affidavit filed in Newton County Circuit Court in Neosho states that Wills served as director of the church’s day camp during that period, and was responsible for the billing and collecting of payments for day camp services.

The affidavit states that a financial manager for the church discovered this year that $12,285.48 that was posted into the day camp’s accounting and billing program had not been turned in to the church office for deposit in the church’s bank account.

The minister of the church, Christopher Sloan, reported the apparent theft to the Newton County Sheriff’s Department on April 7. An investigation ensued, and Wills was charged with the offense May 21.

She posted a surety bond and is awaiting a bond appearance hearing July 19. Joplin lawyer Phil Glades has filed an entry of appearance as her attorney in the case.

The affidavit states that during an interview by a sheriff’s investigator while she was not yet charged, Wills acknowledged that her job entailed billing for the day camp’s services, collecting and posting the payments, and submitting the cash collected to the church’s financial director. She also reportedly told the investigator that she kept cash locked in a desk, and posted “a majority of the payments” into the accounting and billing program.

Efforts to reach Wills for comment Thursday were unsuccessful. The church’s minister also could not be reached for comment.

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Category: Church Security

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