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Woman faces jail for stealing cash from a Catholic church

Woman faces jail for stealing cash from a Catholic church

A Wisconsin woman, Deborah Marcellus, 63, inset, faces a lengthy jail sentence for stealing more than $800,000 from a Catholic Church.

Marcellus, who held the position of Director of Development at Rice Lake’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, was indicted on two counts: filing of incorrect income tax return and wire fraud. She pleaded guilty earlier this month.

She stole the money over a period of six years, from 2011 to 2017. The investigation was carried out by Rice Lake Police Department, the IRS, Diocese of Superior, and St. Joseph’s Church itself.

The prosecution was managed by Aaron Wegner, the Assistant US Attorney.

Marcellus was responsible for managing all accounting and financial matters related to church activities. She used computer software to create checks favoring herself from church funds.

The money was diverted to multiple accounts. She also forged names of multiple church leaders on the checks’ signature lines. The financial instruments were then deposited into her own personal bank account.

The money was spent on personal expenses. Bank records show most of the money was gambled away.

James Peterson, the US District Judge, scheduled the sentencing for October 2. Marcellus could face 20 years inside a federal prison.

Carol Jean Padgett

She is not alone when it comes to defrauding a church. Carol Jean Pagett, 70, right, a treasurer of a small Des Moines church in Iowa, spent a lavish $59,000 on personal items.

She held the position of treasurer at Unity Lutheran Church for about 11 years at the time she was arrested in 2016. Pagett was so trusted by the church congregation that she was the only person responsible to manage the Des Moines church funds.

She misled the church leaders to believe that the church could be forced to close down due to financial hardship. They took her advice and made drastic cuts to the church budget. Health insurance benefits were slashed for church employees.

Several church members even went the extra mile to donate extra money. Financial conditions, however, did not improve. The church leaders then took the decision to go through the church bank statements. The results shocked them.

She was sentenced to about 80 hours community service and ordered to pay back all the embezzled money.

Another example of fraudsters in the church is a pastor’s wife, Susan Combs Pratt of Living Waters Full Gospel Church located in Hazard, Kentucky. She was accused last year of stealing $1.4-million from Mercy Clinic of Jackson.

11 responses to “Woman faces jail for stealing cash from a Catholic church”

  1. Italian Scallion says:

    Instead of putting these people in prison, they should be given medals for taking money from a bunch of crooked churches. I love it whenever churches get the screws put to them.

  2. Daz says:

    Ah, there’s that good ol’ moral compass again. I wonder how us atheists manage without it.

  3. Chiz says:

    God helps those that help themselves

  4. AgentCormac says:

    Thou shalt not… oh, erm, what was the 8th of god’s 10 red-line commandments again?

  5. L.Long says:

    What did she do different than any preacher?? OH! Right! It is always a mistake to steal money from a pack of thieves!

  6. StephenJP says:

    Another one to chalk up whenever the godly tell us how much better than us they are.

  7. Broga says:

    Makes a change.

  8. 1859 says:

    You must be blessed with a brain the size of a boiled egg to steal and then to gamble away $800,000.

  9. gedediah says:

    Financial controls anyone? It’s almost like they think being a Christian makes you more trustworthy than anyone else!

  10. Laura Roberts says:

    I suspect she was only caught because she hit the church in a way they would notice — as opposed to raping or physically abusing young children. Torture all the children you want, but stay away from the coffers!