Type to search

#ChurchToo Church Featured

Idaho Presbytery Employee Accused of Embezzling $330K

Bookkeeper allegedly spent church funds on a 4-wheeler, a basement remodel, and a dog

Avatar photo

A court in Idaho Falls, Idaho, has determined that a case will move forward for a church employee accused of stealing over $330,000.

Kaitlyn Fisher / Photo courtesy of Bonneville County Jail

In May, police arrested and charged Kaitlyn L. Fisher, 31, with three counts of felony grand theft while working for the Presbytery of Kendall—a church organization overseeing at least 12 eastern Idaho Presbyterian churches.

According to court documents, Fisher was the Presbytery of Kendall’s secretary and bookkeeper. In October 2022, a Kendall Presbytery employee reported that Fisher had been embezzling from church funds.

The employee told police the staff had paused meetings for the presbytery’s annual financial reviews since the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they were not meeting, the employee claimed to have repeatedly requested that Fisher produce a report of the Presbytery of Kendall’s finances.

In October 2022, the board of trustees chair collected the organization’s bank statements by contacting the banks directly, East Idaho News reported. According to the claims, the employees uncovered “numerous unauthorized purchases and transfers out of both accounts via Venmo and Paypal dating back as far as 2020.”

Access to MinistryWatch content is free.  However, we hope you will support our work with your prayers and financial gifts.  To make a donation, click here.

The Presbytery of Kendall’s Wells Fargo account listed Fisher’s Venmo account as a payment method for transactions.

The documents say two employees confronted Fisher, and she allegedly admitted to making unauthorized transfers and purchases. But two months later, when an Idaho Falls Police officer questioned Fisher about the allegations, she denied taking the money.

From Fisher’s PayPal and Venmo transaction histories, investigators estimated that Fisher spent over $338,458 in church funds on unauthorized purchases from January 2019 to October 2022.

Fisher reportedly used the church money to buy a red 2018 Honda 4-wheeler and pay a local landscape designer. The secretary also deducted over $280,000 from the organization’s Wells Fargo account and used the stolen funds to finish a basement in her new house, police records say.

Her mortgage, child care, food, gas, furniture, and a dog were all additional charges.

A preliminary hearing on May 29 concluded with a motion to continue the case. Fisher’s next court date is June 12.

The Presbytery of Kendall is part of the Presbyterian Church USA, the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. and recognized for its progressive teaching.

If convicted, Fisher faces up to 42 years in prison.

Main photo: EDITOR’S NOTE:  Why does MinistryWatch report on financial fraud in the church?  We report on them because one in three churches will be victimized, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. We also report on them because these crimes have real victims and cost taxpayers and other stakeholders billions of dollars every year.  Even small crimes in small churches have huge consequences.  We also report on them to remind our readers that they do not have to be victims. There are steps you can take to prevent financial waste, fraud, and abuse in your church or ministry.  To find out more, click here.

TO OUR READERS: Do you have a story idea, or do you want to give us feedback about this or any other story? Please email us: [email protected]

Avatar photo
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.