Mother and Son Steal $1.5 million from Church over 47 years

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (ABP) — A mother and son pleaded guilty in federal court Feb. 19 to stealing more than $1.5 million from a Southern Baptist church where the mother worked for 47 years.

Barbara Whitt, 69, and Michael Whitt, 43, pleaded guilty in U.S. district court to bank fraud and money laundering related to funds embezzled from First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn.

According to the Morristown Citizen Tribune, the pair remain free on bond until their sentencing is set in July.

A widow and trusted financial secretary of the 1,800-member church, Whitt was accused of writing 1,647 checks to herself between January 2008 and April 2010. She was arrested in May, after a church audit found $500,000 was missing.

Whitt, who is not a church member but attended a neighboring Baptist church, took funds from an account that funded things like scholarships and ministries. She would make them out in the church’s accounting program to cash, get one of the church’s authorized officials to sign them, and then add her name on a typewriter before cashing them on her lunch breaks at a nearby bank.

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