Secretary caught stealing more than $440,000 from Blue Springs church over 7 years

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- For almost a decade, an employee and member of a Blue Springs church got away with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But it stopped at the end of July, when another employee at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish caught her.

"I expect that the money I give to my parish is going to be spent on things that parish tells me they're going to be spending the money on," said Jack Smith, communications director for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Smith said the church's secretary, who worked at the parish since it opened 35 years ago, stole $446,000 over a 7-year period. FOX4 is not naming the employee because she has not been charged in the case.

"That employee was basically writing checks to herself, but in the ledger was noting that it was to a different vendor," Smith said.

Smith said, at the end of July, another member of the finance committee noticed irregularities between the bank statements and the accounting documents the employee gave them. The church started an audit and investigation, and discovered the thefts.

The employee was fired in early August when the investigation concluded.

Smith said it's terrible for members of the parish who put their trust in the church employee.

"It's very sad for the parish because people sacrifice to give money to their church, and they think it's going for a good cause," he said. "And then it's not there."

The employee and the church came to an agreement on restitution. She'll have to pay the full $446,000 back to the church within 60 days. Smith said she already spent the money she stole, but she has other means to pay it back.

"I feel for the parishioners," Smith said. "These things do happen. It's unfortunate when they do. It's hard for people when they do, but I'm glad at least in this case there's going to be a restitution for that parish."

Blue Springs Police are also investigating the stolen money.