STILLWATER, Okla. – Thousands of dollars went missing from a Stillwater church and police said, in a matter of weeks, someone could be held responsible.
The pastor at the First United Methodist Church said they discovered problems with their financial records.
Police said that was last month and now they are investigating.
Investigators said at least $140,000 was embezzled.
Police said they believe an ex-employee at first church misused it.
They said they can’t release the suspect’s name until the District Attorney decides whether to file charges.
That will be after the DA receives the police investigative report in a couple of weeks.
It’s startling to those like Darrel Doughtery who give their hard-earned money to their churches weekly.
“You want it to help with the expenses at your church because you want your church to make an impact here locally,” Doughtery said.
“In review of our financial records, we found some questionable transactions that we believe warrant a police investigation,” Church Pastor Mike Chaffin said. “So we have submitted pertinent documentation to the Stillwater Police Department.”
Since stepping in, investigators said they expect the $140,000 mark to rise.
They said the money was embezzled between 2010 and 2012.
A local pastor himself, Brent Prentice said safeguards should protect a church’s money.
“Questions will arise,” he said. “What were the checks and balances? What were the safeguards in place to keep this money from disappearing?”
Local churchgoers said it’s frustrating to see thousands taken.
“That church and other churches do a lot in our community, so there’s a lot of lost opportunity with that much money,” Doughtery said.
They want to know where it went when it left the church.
The DA said embezzlement charges could be filed and the person responsible could face up to 10 years in jail.