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Texas Church Bookkeeper Sentenced for Embezzling More Than $450,000

The former bookkeeper for a Texas church has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for embezzling more than $450,000.

Lisa Dawn Stabeno, 52, the former accounting manager for Church on the Rock in Lubbock, pleaded guilty in May to two counts of bank fraud. She was sentenced in U.S. District court last week to two concurrent 66-month prison terms, and also ordered to pay $450,000 in restitution, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.

After she apologized for her actions at the sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix said, “Talk is very cheap at this point.”

“You were trusted with accounts and misappropriated funds,” he said. “You did it again, and again and again.”

Stabeno used church credit cards to pay for vacations to Disney Land, LegoLand, Six Flags over Texas, and Las Vegas, and for clothing, beauty services, and restaurant meals.

She also used the cards to pay rent, medical bills and car loans for other family members and to pay down their credit card bills, per Everything Lubbock.

Stabeno began working for a ministry for underserved people at the church in February 2013 and as its bookkeeper five months later. The theft began soon after she took the new role, per the Avalanche-Journal.

She was fired in 2018 after she was found out. The financial implications of the theft included the church having to terminate employees, seek donations and get a bank loan.

Stabeno originally faced six counts of bank fraud, but four were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Stabeno has been ordered to surrender herself to the bureau of prisons on December 30.

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.