BIG BREAKING NEWS – BILKING BY CHURCH FINANCE MANAGER: Former finance manager bilks $1.3 million from church [#FelllowshipChristianChurch #LaraLynnFord] 04/30
A former finance manager at one of the biggest churches in Texas – Fellowship Christian Church in Grapevine – pleaded guilty to theft, diverting more than $1.3 million to herself, according to court and police records.
Lara Lynn Ford, 51, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
However, Lara Lynn Ford may apply for shock probation, which could suspend her prison sentence for theft.
An audit of the church’s banking accounts found Lara Lynn Ford bilked $1,377,000.
The theft occurred from December 2008 through April 2019.
When asked by police why she committed the theft, she responded: “Umm, stupid.”
Lara Lynn Ford also told police she had a spending problem and would “buy things she doesn’t need and would help people.”
Lara Lynn Ford told police she began stealing from Fellowship Christian by taking money from the offering, then graduated to making fraudulent bank transfers to 3 personal checking accounts.
The church has received $750,000 in insurance claims due to the theft.
The investigation into the theft was triggered when Fellowship Christian CFO Dennis Brewer discovered “discrepancies with some transactions” in April 2019.
Lara Lynn Ford tapped into a housing allowance account used by the church to supplement employee base pay.
Lara Lynn Ford increased her pay an extra $200 every 3 weeks from the housing allowance account.
Then, in January 2019, Lara Lynn Ford increased her pay an extra $500 every 2 weeks out of the housing allowance.
Dennis Brewer told police he first began questioning “shortages” in church accounts and demoted Lara Lynn Ford as finance manager in 2018, but she still remained in the accounting department with access to the housing allowance account.
Lara Lynn Ford began working at Fellowship Church in 2005, and had no prior criminal history.
The theft also comes while Fellowship Christian Church has received 2 government PPP loans of $1.5 million in April 2020, and another $1.5 million March 2021.
Former finance manager bilks $1.3 million from Fellowship Christian Church: