A Hopewell woman is is sitting in jail and faces 14 counts of felony embezzlement for allegedly embezzling in excess of half a million dollars from a Chesterfield Church.
Jerri S. Hunter, 39, is accused of taking at least $500,000 over several years from Chester United Methodist Church.
Police say she was hired as a finance administrator for Chester United Methodist Church back in 2007, but Hunter started to raise red flags in 2012 when church officials noticed an irregularity. Authorities say Hunter claimed she lost a paycheck, so the church issued another one.
"They found that both those checks were cashed and they were cashed by Mrs. Hunter," says Lt. Steve Grohowski of the Chesterfield Police Department.
Church officials hired personal accountants and asked police to investigate. Investigators say they're still trying to determine how much money was taken but so far they've found more than $500,000, calling it one of the biggest embezzlement cases they've seen in Chesterfield.
"We've seen embezzlements over the past year that have involved civic associations but none that have reached $500,000 or more," Grohowski says.
"Everyone was of course taken by surprise and off guard by this. Ms Hunter was someone that we had placed a lot of trust in," says church spokesman Harold Crowder.
Chowder says while the news has devastated the congregation, it has also strengthened it.
"It has drawn us closer together. We know that a number of lives have been impacted and we're drawing strength from our scripture."
Saying while they're hoping for justice, they're working on forgiveness and counting on faith to move forward.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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