A church employee from Texas faces at least 5 years of imprisonment for embezzling $450,000 from her congregation.

The Christian Post said 52-year-old Lisa Dawn Stabeno was sentenced by the United States District Judge James Wesley Hendrix to five years and six months of imprisonment last week for stealing the great sum of money from Church on the Rock.

Stabeno apologized in tears while she was being sentenced in court. However, Hendrix retorted that "talk is very cheap at this point" and stressed at how she abused the trust given her by her church.

"You were trusted with accounts and misappropriated funds...You did it again, and again and again," Hendrix told Stabeno during the hearing, as per Everything Lubbock.

The United States Attorney's Office from the Northern District of Texas said last November 18 in a statement that Stabeno was the church's bookkeeper previously and was ordered by Hendrix to pay the $450,000 in restitution. Stabeno was charged with two counts of bank fraud to which she pleaded guilty to last May.

Hendrix called her offense as "brazen thefts" as records showed she actually "embezzled more than $450,000 from Church on the Rock, a non-denominational religious institution serving more than 3,400 parishioners in Lubbock."

Prior to her admission of guilt, Stabeno admitted that she started stealing from the church four months after becoming its accountant on November 2013. The church's two credit cards were the first thing she used to pay her personal expenses. The credit cards were assigned to the pastor and another to a church employee.

Stabeno used the credit card for personal expenses like restaurant meals, salon services, medical and dental expenses, and clothing. She also used it to pay for her car loan that she co-financed with her daughter, as well as for to pay for purchases she made for bakery supplies. She co-owned a bakery with her daughters.

Stabeno then started in 2014 to make payments to herself using the credit cards, and then paid personal credit card debt with the church's funds in 2015.

"Beginning in 2014, Ms. Stabeno began making payments to herself with church credit cards using Square, a digital point-of-sale payment system which processes payments from credit cards run through a port connected to a cell phone," the United States Attorney's Office said.

"In 2015, Ms. Stabeno opened two credit cards, one in her own name and one in her daughter's name, which she used for personal expenses. She then paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt on the cards using money from church bank accounts, including its general operating account, and its 'Dream Center' ministry account," they added.

The Attorney's Office also cited Stabeno using her personal credit card to pay for her bakery's payroll and "purchases" but paid if off using the church's money. This eventually helped her bakery boost in sales and profits that led to her daughter's salary raises.

It took three more years (2018) before the Church on the Rock discovered all that she has been doing for half a decade. The church then terminated her employment and filed a lawsuit against her for fraud. The investigation on her was conducted by the Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lubbock Resident Agency before she was prosecuted on the case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Howey.