SJ church embezzler gets year in jail

| June 23, 2011

ST. JOSEPH – Berrien County Trial Court Judge Gary Bruce on Monday conceded that the tearful apology made by convicted embezzler Jon Ruppel to the church he had stolen from was "probably the most heartfelt one I ever heard."

Nevertheless, Bruce sentenced Ruppel to 365 days in the Berrien County Jail, minus the two he's already served. He also ordered him to pay $192,727 in restitution to St. Peter's United Church of Christ in St. Joseph, where he had been treasurer, plus $2,548 in fines and costs.

Ruppel, 46, already has repaid $70,000 to the church where he had been baptized and confirmed.

Bruce said while this was Ruppel's first criminal offense, the embezzling had gone on for years and by his own admission Ruppel had stolen from the church hundreds of times over a roughly 10-year period. In a court appearance last month, he said he kept money for himself that was to have been deposited in church accounts, including collection plate offerings. He also withdrew money from church accounts.

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Category: Church Security

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