On Monday, April 9, 2018, it was announced that 38-year-old C. Alana Vines of Sharpsburg, Georgia had been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing more than $400,000 from the church where she worked as a bookkeeper in Peachtree City. The victim church hired Vines as a bookkeeper in March of 2013. In her position, she wrote checks, paid bills, completed electronic bank transfers, prepared financial statements and made entries into the church’s accounting software.
In 2017, the church hired an outside auditor to examine its books. The auditor discovered that the cash deposits in the bank were roughly $1,000 less than the amount that had been counted at the time of collections. Vines was interviewed about the discrepancy. She admitted to stealing about $1,000 from the collections, but insisted she had not stolen more. The ensuing investigation found that Vines had written nearly $400,000 in checks to herself and to business entities that she was affiliated with. She did so without the church’s permission or knowledge.
The defendant sometimes forged the signature of the church’s Treasurer on the checks. She signed many of the checks herself. Vines recorded many of the checks in the accounting software to make it appear that the payments were made to others than herself and her affiliated businesses. The defendant also made numerous online purchases from Amazon and paid for the transactions with the church’s checking account.
In total, she fraudulently purchased more than $20,000 in items for her personal benefit. She embezzled roughly $420,000 in total. Vines pleaded guilty to wire fraud on December 7, 2017. Again, C. Alana Vines has been sentenced to two years in prison. Additional details can be found here.