Shelbyville man sentenced after stealing nearly $150K from church while serving as treasurer
Update (Feb. 22, 2017)– Michael Richardson was sentenced to six years. He will spend one year in prison and one year on home detention. The remaining four years will be spent on probation. He must also repay $171,334.98 in restitution to the church.
SHELBYVILLE, Ind.– An accountant in Shelby County was arrested after he allegedly admitted to stealing money from a church while he worked as treasurer.
Michael Richardson, who attended the Lewis Creek Baptist Church since he was born, is facing charges of corrupt business influence and theft. According to court documents, an amount between $125,000-$150,000 was stolen from the church between January 1, 2013 to January 1, 2016.
Richardson reportedly called a meeting with church trustees, an attorney and his parents. Court documents say he told those in attendance he had stolen $50,000 from the church and asked that the trustees to sign a document saying the items had been returned.
In a separate incident, a secretary with the church received a phone call from a check cashing company. The company said Richardson was trying to cash a church check. The company was told not to cash it and church trustees were notified.
After Richardson’s meeting, a trustee contacted his wife and asked her to meet for lunch to discuss the stolen money. The wife said Richardson told her that treasurer was a paid position after she noticed extra money in their account. Richardson’s wife provided two years’ worth of bank statements, and said the money started being deposited as soon as Richardson took the position.
On June 24, police interviewed Richardson with his attorney present. Court documents show he began by saying, “I did it. I did it.”
He said as treasurer, he was responsible for paying bills, keeping the books, payroll and tax filings. He began his role in March 2013 and began taking money in April 2013. He told police he was in need of money because his wife wanted to spend more money than they had, and this was his way to prevent a fight at home.
He said he took money several different ways, including debit, check and electronic transfer. Richardson told police he estimated stealing around $3,000 per month over three years.
Investigators estimated the total amount of money to be approximately $147,925.94.