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Tag: Carol Padgett

Black Collar Crime: Lutheran Pastor Says Church Treasurer Carol Padgett Stole From God

carol padgett

Carol Padgett, treasurer for Unity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa was sentenced today to eighty hours of community service for embezzling almost $59,000 from the church. Padgett is also required to pay back the money she stole.

The Des Moines Register reports:

The Rev. Donna Joseph told a Des Moines courtroom on Wednesday that she hopes God will forgive the woman who embezzled almost $59,000 from her church.

“I worry, Carol, about the state of your soul,” Joseph said.

Carol Jean Padgett, 70, of Altoona was sentenced on Wednesday to 80 hours of community service. She earlier pleaded guilty to two felony charges for embezzlement while she was treasurer of Unity Lutheran Church in Des Moines.

Padgett was also ordered to pay back the money she stole and additional fees.

Padgett, who had been treasurer for the church more than 11 years, was arrested in December 2016. She originally faced seven felony charges. In April, she pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to two of those charges: second-degree theft and credit card fraud.

In a reading a victim impact statement on Wednesday, Joseph described what she knew about Padgett’s crimes and their effect on the church.

“You stole from God,” she said.

The pastor invoked her faith in her statement to the courtroom by explaining several Bible passages that caution against greed and the “evil deeds” that Padgett committed.

“Sadly, money became your false God. … The love of money is the root of all evil,” Joseph said to Padgett.

Joseph described many church members volunteering more or donating extra money to try to keep the church afloat as Padgett was embezzling.

“You took the sacrifices of so many people,” Joseph said.

Padgett had led church leaders to believe they may have to close the church because of financial problems. The church made several budget cuts over the years in response to Padgett’s advice as treasurer, including pulling donations to other organizations and cutting Joseph’s salary and insurance benefits, Joseph said.

As treasurer, Padgett was the only person to handle the church’s finances, Joseph said. But after months of financial woe, church leaders grew suspicious and eventually examined the bank statements themselves.

They found that Padgett had made ATM withdrawals without the church council’s approval, Joseph said. Padgett had also written checks to herself without approval.

When Padgett had started as the church’s treasurer, it was a paid job, but it was later changed to a volunteer position, Joseph said. If this had caused her financial problems, she should have complained or resigned years ago — it’s not an excuse for theft, Joseph said.

The church has confirmed that Padgett stole nearly $59,000, but Joseph testified that it may have been more.

“Only the Lord knows how much you really stole,” she said.

Joseph claimed that Padgett used the stolen money to buy herself a new car, an expensive vacuum, food at restaurants and other items.

Before she was sentenced, Padgett apologized to Joseph and the several other church members who attended the court hearing.

“I do apologize. … My actions were deplorable,” Padgett said. She added that she is “anxious” to pay restitution for the money she stole, and her attorney said she had planned to make a payment of $1,400 on Wednesday.

In addition to 80 hours of community service and an order to pay restitution, Padgett was sentenced to two years of probation with a suspended prison sentence of five years for each of her two charges.


Joseph added that she accepts Padgett’s apology.

“I just want her to be right with Christ, turn to the Lord and seek forgiveness,” she said.

Bruce Gerencser