Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Woman sentenced for embezzling from Florida church

Jeana Michelle Adams, a former bookkeeper at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Crestview, will serve two years in prison for stealing church funds.

Adams was actually sentenced to 15 years, but Circuit Court Judge Michael Flowers suspended 13 years as a term of her no contest plea entered Monday.
If she breaks the law during the extended period of probation, Adams will face 13 years of incarceration.
Adams was arrested in February 2010, months after church deacons and accountants uncovered documents showing the seven-year employee had forged more than 100 congregation checks.
Investigators determined Adams had taken more than $300,000 from her church. She was charged with grand larceny, forgery, passing a forged document and racketeering.
At Monday’s sentencing, the church sought no restitution. Given the amount of money taken, though, Flowers delayed granting the church request to give the congregation time to reconsider.
“It was a tremendous amount of money,” said Assistant State Attorney Angela Mason, who prosecuted the case.
At Monday’s hearing, Brad Stewart, Adams’ attorney, requested the court lessen his client’s sentence due to the unsophisticated nature of her crime.
Mason said she countered the argument by pointing out that Adams had mapped out wells in Africa she’d conned church members into believing they’d built with money she had actually stolen.
Flowers sided with the prosecution.
“He definitely made the point that theft from churches in Okaloosa County won’t be tolerated,” Mason said.
Stewart said he hoped Monday’s sentencing would bring “closure” for the church and the Adams family

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