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Blackmailed Church Treasurer Ordered to Pay Back $532K He Stole

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A church treasurer in Kentucky will begin a 33-month prison sentence in March for wire fraud and must pay over $500,000 in restitution to the church he stole from.

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Court documents say that from December 2015 until July 2019, church treasurer Ralph Tackett, 66, embezzled $512,042 from Victory Life Church in Georgetown, Kentucky, and intentionally concealed bank account statements from church leaders to avoid detection.

Tackett and his wife, Connie, co-own Tackett Real Estate & Property Management. Court records indicate Connie did not know about the fraud. Currently, she is the only listed agent on the business website.

In court, Tackett claimed he needed money to pay a blackmailer.

Records show Tackett directly paid $187,356 on his credit cards with church funds to pay off an out-of-state individual threatening him.

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Court records acknowledged evidence that Tackett was a victim of cyberstalking and legitimately fearful of exposure of his sexual exploits, but the records reported Tackett began stealing before the threats started.

The sentencing memorandum said Tackett had years to report the threats. Yet, he continued stealing from others to protect himself and his family’s reputation “while the church, especially its pastor, suffered and continues to suffer as it rebuilds from this betrayal.”

The memorandum continued, “treated the donations and funds of the Church as if he were entitled to them – he managed the Church’s operating account as if it were his own secret bank account.”

Tackett’s behavior and attempts to conceal his misappropriation were not complex. The role of the church treasury reportedly went unchecked, allowing him to conceal his crimes easily.

“Any simple review of the church’s bank account statements alone, for example, would have revealed Mr. Tackett’s crime. He stole money by making electronic transfers, cashing checks into his personal bank account, and literally taking money from offering trays – the means to his ends were simple, easy, and opportunistic,” the memorandum said.

Tackett, who pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud last September, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $532,807.46 in restitution to the church.

Tackett will be under supervision for three years after his release from prison.

He is ordered to begin his term by 2 p.m. on March 10, 2023.

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Jessica Eturralde

Jessica Eturralde is a military wife of 18 years and mother of three who serves as a freelance writer, TV host, and filmmaker. Bylines include Yahoo, Huffington Post, OC16TV.