A woman who served as a church treasurer reportedly funded her gambling addiction using the money she stole from her church.
Patricia Radich, a 62-year-old resident of Rochester, Minnesota, was charged by the Olmsted County Court with twelve counts of felony theft for stealing more than $100,000 from her church where she served as treasurer for twelve years, WND reported.
KROC News said Radich stole money from the church's 2015 fundraiser that was set aside for remodeling projects and for loan payments by end of 2020. The church initially discovered that Radich had stolen $183,189.03 in "over a four year period" when they requested the financial records last May 2020.
Radich admitted to their pastor that she has stolen the money out of her "gambling addiction" that led her to spend the money at casinos.
KROC cited the complaint against Radich that said the former treasurer began stealing in 2016 by "writing checks to herself" and "ended in 2019." The complaint also said Radich "had gone to May for counseling to get some help."
After conducting the audit, the church discovered that Radich has actually stolen "checks totaling $422,925.90 that were made out to Radich going back to 2013" that was contrary to what she admitted to in the complaint. Police investigations on the church's bank accounts reveal that "a large amount of funds that were withdrawn electronically and/or at ATM's of casinos."
"One day in particular Radich withdrew $10,500 at a casino. There were several days where Radich would withdraw between $7,000 and $8,000 at the casino," the police investigation said as quoted by KROC.
Police investigations also revealed the number of checks issued by Radich that were aggregated in a 6-month period beginning April 15, 2016 and ending on December 18, 2019.
The checks per period, according to KROC, seemed small if looked at every six months: there's a total of $23,439.93 for the period between April 15 to Oct. 14, 2016, followed by a total of $17,447.92 for the period between Oct. 15, 2016 to April 14, 2017, and a total of $53,236.46 for the period between April 15 to Oct. 14, 2017.
Based on the list provided by KROC, Radich has issued herself a total of 49 checks in over the three year period that she admitting stealing from her church.
The arraignment for Radich's case is scheduled on May 12, 2021.
In similar news, a former manager at Texas' Fellowship Church, also a woman, stole over $1.4M in a span of ten years. The woman, a 51-year-old, admitted that she stole the money out of being "stupid" because she "would buy things she doesn't need and would help people."
The church manager, whose name is Lara Lynn Ford, has escaped a 99-year imprisonment charge after pleading guilty to the crime. Ford has applied for shock probation to further escape her prison sentence with community probation.
According to AG Financial, people steal from their church because there are no internal controls, because of financial pressure, out of rationalization, and continual exposure to funds in an unsupervised, unregulated environment.
"Church fraud characteristically takes place over a long period of time-seven years on average-and involves small sums stolen intermittently. For that reason, it can be difficult to detect. To make matters worse, many churches lack the internal financial controls necessary to expose-and prevent-fraud," AG Financial said in its website.
"Furthermore, when fraud is discovered, leaders may fail to report it to their insurance company or local authorities. Unfortunately, this sets the stage for future occurrences," they added.