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Clay County woman charged with church theft

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Clay County woman went to court Thursday on the charges of theft from Cloverdale Methodist Church.

Michelle Everhart, 36, Poland, was arrested Tuesday evening after an investigation by the Indiana State Police revealed a theft totaling $5,700. Judge Matt Headley presided over her initial hearing Thursday morning. Everhart pleaded not guilty to the D felony charge of theft. Mindy Jackman was appointed as Everhart's public defender, and bond was set at $6,000 cash only.

The money in question was taken from the church's Mission Fund, which goes to help support two missions -- the Putnam County Pregnancy Center and abused women. It also goes to help supply children and infants with food and clothing, as well as persons who are in dire need of financial assistance.

Everhart admitted to taking money from the mission fund, as well as using the church's Visa and Sam's Club/Wal-Mart credit cards.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Everhart stated the thefts began when her husband was out of work in the latter part of 2007 and she did not want the family to be without Christmas presents.

However, during the investigation it was discovered these expenditures were used for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, fuel and tires for her personal car, gourmet coffees, cosmetics, gift cards from Best Buy, clothing, toys, restaurant expenses, telephone, propane and electric bills for her personal residence as well as other unauthorized expenditures.

Everhart told investigators that she would intercept the mail daily and locate the financial statements being sent to the church in order to cover up her theft.

Cloverdale Methodist Church hired Bray & Associates Certified Public Accountants to detail the financial loss they incurred due to Everhart's misuse.

The findings revealed that, despite the fact that Everhart stated the thefts began in December 2007, they appear to have begun on March 22, 2007 -- seven days after Everhart began working at the church.

Also discovered in the audit were 79 independent acts of theft using unauthorized instruments for her financial transactions totaling $5,767.92, according to the affidavit.

This is not the first time Everhart has faced such accusations.

During the investigation by Indiana State Police Sgt. Scott Stockton, he found out Everhart was arrested and convicted of theft from the Boy Scouts of America in Indianapolis when she served as treasurer several years ago.

Everhart's pretrial conference is set for Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. At that time, a trial date will be set pending her plea.

If found guilty, Everhart faces between six months and three years in jail or a maximum $10,000 fine.

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The LORD said to Moses: "If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do- when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering.

Leviticus 6:1-5

-- Posted by CdaleResident on Fri, Aug 29, 2008, at 1:02 AM

If "This is not the first time Everhart has faced such accusations" and Sgt. Scott Stockton "found out Everhart was arrested and convicted of theft from the Boy Scouts of America in Indianapolis when she served as treasurer several years ago", I would think the church could have found that out before they hired her. Sounds to me like her "guilt offering" should involve some jail time!

-- Posted by '74tiger on Fri, Aug 29, 2008, at 5:34 AM

Jail time? Yes, I agree she is a criminal...but sending this type of offender to jail further punishes the taxpayer for having to provide food, shelter and guards to this low life thief. Same as with Dr Elliott...the church has no relief from their loss until these people (I mean low life thieves) actually pay back what they stole. Why not force this type of person to work a humiliating type of job and sign over the paycheck until they have paid the entire amount? Maybe they could even be forced to wear a shirt that lets the entire community know their crime. Just my opinion.

-- Posted by ExHoosier on Fri, Aug 29, 2008, at 12:39 PM

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