State denies prison term for church embezzler

| April 22, 2012

LANCASTER — If Judge Richard Berens had his way, John W. Elder would spend the next eight years in a state prison.

Instead, Elder, convicted of embezzling $45,000 from his church and defrauding insurance companies, will spend 180 days in jail and five years of community control. Berens issued the eight-year sentence, but was forced to suspend it after the state denied his request to put Elder in prison.

Elder, 61, was sentenced in Fairfield County Common Pleas Judge Richard Berens' courtroom Monday. Elder pleaded guilty to six counts of theft, three counts of insurance fraud and three counts of forgery in February. He stole from his church, Calvary United Methodist, in Bremen, and defrauded Monumental Life Insurance, the insurance company he worked for.

Berens and Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx wanted to send Elder to prison. However, under the new sentence reform, House Bill 86, Berens was unable to do so.

House Bill 86 requires judges to consult first with the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections if they want to imprison a first-time, nonviolent, low-level felony offender such as Elder. According to Marx, if Elder violates his parole, he will be required to serve some or all of the eight-year sentence.

 

http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/article/20120417/NEWS01/204170302/State-denies-prison-term-church-embezzler?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

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Category: Church Security

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