Former church employee sentenced to 2 years in prison for embezzling over $500K

St. Matthew's Catholic Church and School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
St. Matthew's Catholic Church and School in Indianapolis, Indiana. | Screenshot: Google Maps

An Indiana woman has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing more than $500,000 from the church where she worked and using the money to pay for vacations and gambling.

The United States Department of Justice said Monday that Marie Carson, 72, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was sentenced to two years in prison for transferring $573,836.59 from the business accounts of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church and School in Indianapolis over 13-years while she served as business manager there. 

Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt also sentenced Carson to two years of supervised release following her jail stint and ordered her to repay the money in restitution.

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According to the DOJ, “Carson’s scheme was exposed in November of 2021, when she was on leave from her position. Carson’s temporary replacement noticed suspicious transfers from the parish’s gaming account to an external bank account. Further investigation led to the location of over $289,000 in transfers to multiple accounts, including a phantom account created in the church’s name.”

“Carson was able to maintain the scheme by making false entries into the database used by the parish to track payments,” the DOJ added, further detailing how the former church employee spent the donations given in good faith by parishioners: “A significant amount of money was used by Carson and her husband for casino gambling and an annual, month-long vacation to Florida.”

“For more than 13 years, this defendant abused her position of trust to embezzle money from parishioners intended for a church and school,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Zachary Myers. “Her greed and desire for lavish vacations outweighed her interest in following the dictates of our criminal laws and the teachings of her church, ‘thou shalt not steal.’”

Myers praised Carson’s sentence for sending “a clear message to those who might seek to steal, defraud, and embezzle: we will find you, you will be prosecuted, and you will be held accountable.”

FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge, Herbert Stapleton, offered a similar analysis, vowing that “the FBI and our partners will continue to identify and investigate those who engage in these types of illegal schemes and hold them accountable.”

“This scheme was fueled by pure greed. For more than a decade, the defendant abused the trust of the church and its parishioners to line her own pocket,” he added. “While she may have benefited in the short term, in the end this perpetrator’s deception landed her behind bars.”

Carson’s sentencing follows the defendant’s guilty plea to wire fraud in November 2022. At the time, St. Matthew’s pastor, the Rev. Msgr. William Stumpf, informed parishioners about what took place within the church community and what safeguards the parish was putting in place to prevent such a situation from happening in the future.

“It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you more fully of the financial irregularities discovered and reported to you last December,” he wrote in a Nov. 9, 2022, letter. “As you recall, at that time, a full report was made to the civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. We have cooperated fully with the FBI and were not able to share any additional information while their investigation was in progress.”

Stumpf assured members of the St. Matthew’s community that the church had “enacted new internal accounting controls to provide assurance that all funds are safeguarded.” He noted that the church carried Fidelity Insurance to cover fraud and theft losses, adding: “We have received payment to cover the documented loss.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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