Secretary sentenced for stealing $90K from Alabama church

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – An Alabama woman has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after authorities say she stole nearly $90,000 from a now-closed church where she worked as secretary, using some of the money for trips to casinos.

Carmen Ramer Davis, 59, of Opp, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in November to eight counts of wire fraud, court records show.

Brooklyn Congregational Methodist Church in Coffee County closed because of financial hardship soon after the fraud was discovered in August 2019, and it has not reopened, according to a news release Friday by Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Sandra Stewart.

“The crimes committed by Ms. Davis victimized an entire faith community,” Stewart said. “The harm will continue to be felt for quite some time.”

As part of the sentencing Friday, U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. ordered Davis to serve one year of supervised release after she leaves prison.

The church appointed Davis as its secretary in 2006 and she had access to its bank account to pay the congregation’s bills, according to court records and testimony.

Prosecutors said Davis obtained a debit card for the church account without the knowledge of church leaders, and she used it to make fraudulent cash withdrawals and purchase items for herself. She also wrote checks from the church account to herself or made them out to cash, without permission.

An investigation showed Davis used some of the church’s money for trips to casinos in Mississippi and Alabama.

The fraudulent activity was discovered when a church leader received a bank letter about insufficient funds to cover a $75 check from the church account.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Huffaker determined that from July 2008 until July 2019, Davis defrauded the church of $89,440. The judge ordered her to pay restitution to the church in that amount.

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