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Barbara L. Fouts, church treasurer for Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Dennison, Ohio, has been accused stealing almost $25,000 from church accounts.
A 56-year-old woman who served as treasurer of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church for 25 years has been charged with two counts of grand theft, accused of taking more than $24,000 from the church over five years.
Defendant Barbara L. Fouts, of the Dennison area, has pleaded not guilty to the Nov. 20 indictment. Her next court date is March 21, when a pretrial conference is scheduled with Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge Edward O’Farrell.
The alleged theft was found after a change in church leadership, according to assistant county prosecutor Scott Deedrick.
“A new pastor was installed at the church and quickly determined that there were issues concerning the finances,” Deedrick told The Times-Reporter in an email. “Inquiries by he and others were unanswered. Certain officers including the defendant ultimately resigned their positions leading to the installation of other officers. The information/documentation that they were able to obtain was incomplete, questions remained unanswered and new questions arose.
“This led to the (church) having a forensic accounting of the records that could be cobbled together.”
The audit investigating the suspected embezzlement covered the five-year period ending Dec. 31, 2016, Deedrick said.
“The accountant found that there were $63,299.60 in disbursements that could not be accounted for due to lack of records,” Deedrick wrote. “There were $43,911.72 of disbursements not authorized by the (church board).”
Of this amount, $33,769.55 was disbursed by Fouts in her role as church treasurer, Deedrick said.
“Of that amount, $24,283.67 is alleged to have been disbursed by (Fouts) to herself or for her benefit,” Deedrick said. “It is this amount that forms the basis for the indictment in this matter. The (church) received insurance proceeds of $10,000.”