Pennsylvania Church Seeks 'Greater Punishment' for Former Treasurer after Theft and Forgery
- Christopher Eyte Contributing Writer
- Updated Jun 23, 2022
A Pennsylvania pastor says her congregation wants a former church treasurer to be given a 'greater punishment' for stealing thousands of dollars from church funds.
Melanie Lee Kummerer, aged 56, pled guilty to one count of theft by unlawful taking and three counts of forgery when she was employed as a treasurer by Calvary Lutheran Church in Reading court documents have revealed, as quoted by the Reading Eagle.
Rev Lauren Wolfe Blatt, the interim pastor at the church, told the Reading Eagle, "I think overall our congregation is really grieving. They wanted to see a greater punishment for such a large crime."
Kummerer, formerly the central treasurer for Calvary Lutheran, was given a sentence of 10 years of probation at the court hearing presided over by Berks County Judge Patrick T Barrett on June 7. The judge also told the former treasurer she must pay restitution of $379,002 to the church, $11,441 to Brotherhood Mutual and $25,000 to UFC Insurance.
The Reading Eagle cited investigators from the district attorney's office who confirmed that Kummerer forged at least 200 checks worth a total of $391,444 from 2009 to 2019.
Berks County District Attorney's Office confirmed that a church rep reported being a victim of a financial crime on July 24, 2019 – Kummerer had resigned a few months before (February 25, 2019). She had received an annual stipend of $2,503 and kept all of the church's financial records at her home.
Rev. Drew Neidig, appointed as a new senior pastor in August 2018, asked Kummerer to show financial documents showing income and balance for the fellowship. The former treasurer failed to do so at two financial meetings, which is when the police began investigating her.
Rev Neidig was quoted as saying that Calvary Lutheran faced problems paying bills while Kummerer stole from the church.
"It put us in a very tough position," he said. "We were often behind in paying our bills, and it's because we did not have the money. One of the things that the church and other nonprofits do is assume that everyone is trustworthy, and therefore they don't have good financial controls in place, and that certainly was the case here because we assumed people were trustworthy, and we didn't have proper checks and balances."
Photo courtesy: Vladimir Solomianyi/Unsplash
Christopher Eyte lives with his wife Céline and three children in Swansea, Wales, UK. He has worked as a journalist for many years and writes his own blog (hislovefrees.life) encouraging others in their walk with Jesus. He became a Christian in February 2002, after a friend explained God's amazing grace!