OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A former church employee has been sentenced to pay restitution and serve two years in federal prison for defrauding a church out of more than $450,000 dollars, according to the United States Department of Justice.

U. S. Attorney Robert J. Troester announced on Tuesday that Darla Bralley, 59, of Oklahoma City, was sentenced to serve 24 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $450,000 from St. Paul The Apostle Catholic Church.

On Aug. 17, 2022, Bralley was charged by Information with wire fraud, and making and filing a false tax return.

According to the Information, beginning in early 2014 and continuing through at least January 2020, Bralley devised a scheme to defraud and obtain money from St. Paul. Bralley was employed as payroll administrator for St. Paul during this period and had the authority to issue checks for authorized expenses on behalf of the church.

The Information alleges Bralley issued approximately 198 unauthorized checks, drawn from St. Paul’s checking account, to pay for various personal items including personal credit card payments, utilities, and living expenses.

Bralley also made approximately 1,068 fraudulent, unauthorized transfers from the St. Paul checking account to pay her personal expenses. In all, Bralley defrauded St. Paul out of approximately $451,177.54.

The Information also alleges that on her 2018 U. S. Individual Income Tax Return, Bralley reported a total income that was substantially lower than what she received during the year as a result of the fraud.

On Sept. 29, 2022, Bralley pleaded guilty to the two-count Information. As part of her plea, Bralley admitted to embezzling $451,177.54 from the church and she further admitted that she did not declare those funds on her annual tax returns.

At the sentencing hearing Tuesday officials confirm, U. S. District Judge Scott L. Palk sentenced Bralley to serve 24 months in federal prison and ordered Bralley to pay restitution in the amount of $544,173.54. In announcing the sentence, Judge Palk noted that $451,177.54 would be paid to St. Paul, and $92,996.00 would be paid to the IRS.