Saturday, June 1, 2013

Conn. woman admits embezzling from synagogue

The former president of the Beth El Synagogue pleaded guilty on Friday to mail fraud in the embezzlement of more than $500,000 in synagogue funds, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney.

During her time as vice president and then president of the synagogue, Jodi Churchill, 45, allegedly used embezzled funds to pay school-related expenses for her children, lease a horse for one of her children, pay vehicle expenses and buy airline tickets and hotels for personal travel. She also gave some of the stolen money to a relative, the U.S. Attorney said.

Churchill, a resident of Orange, opened a checking account and a money market account in the name of the synagogue and then had the bank statements sent to her home, the U.S. Attorney said.

Between June and December 2011, Churchill deposited more than $300,000 in synagogue funds into those accounts. Investigators found that she made more than 60 unauthorized withdrawals of the funds ranging in amount from $200 to $5,000, the U.S. Attorney said.

Churchill pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez, the U.S. Attorney said. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5.

Churchill faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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