Virginia church accountant sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzling over $176K         

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A former church accountant has been sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling more than $176,000 from a congregation in Virginia and has been ordered to pay restitution.

Andrew Patrick Landsperger, who formerly served as an accountant for Galilee Episcopal Church of Virginia Beach, was sentenced last month on charges of credit card fraud and embezzlement.

According to a press release from the city of Virginia Beach, Landsperger stole money from the church from January 2022 until August 2022. When his crime was discovered, he was fired.

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“As part of his employment, Landsperger had access to payroll, the church’s books, and the church’s credit card. From April to July 2022, he conducted $34,653.72 worth of unauthorized transactions on his Amazon account using the church’s credit card,” authorities explained.

“Landsperger used his access to the church’s payroll system to alter his approved salary. The total overpayment to Landsperger using the church’s altered payroll system was $134,839.52.”

In total, Galilee Episcopal lost $176,536 due to the fraud, with the church recovering $112,324 via insurance and reimbursement from the church’s credit card company.

In addition to prison time, Landsperger was ordered to pay restitution to the church for the remaining $64,199 that was lost through his criminal actions, according to authorities.

The Rev. Andrew D. Buchanan, rector for Galilee Episcopal Church, brought up the issue during a worship service held on Oct. 29, where he mentioned that he was present for the sentencing.

“I want you to know that, in between the time that he was caught and now, we’ve done a lot of work,” said Buchanan. “We’ve had internal audits, external audits. We’ve had several specialists brought in and we have firmed up everything.”

“It's awkward to bring up during this stewardship season when we’re asking you to make a pledge to the church, but I want you to know. And I want you to know we have full transparency.”  

According to a Texas A&M School of Law report published earlier this year, churches in the United States lost approximately $59 billion due to embezzlement in 2022 alone.

The report went on to cite “lack of financial oversight,” “unwillingness to report perpetrators” and “trusting nature” as contributing factors to fraud within churches.

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