Woman Gets 6 Years for Stealing $320k from Church

May 28, 2008

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — A woman who worked as a bookkeeper and office manager for Newport Harbor Lutheran Church was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for stealing about $320,000 from the church by forging checks.

Cheryl Leann Granger, 45, who lived in Irvine but moved to New Hampshire after theft was discovered, admitted to felony counts of grand theft and forgery, and a sentencing enhancement that losses exceeded $150,000, said Farrah Emami of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Granger was ordered to pay $333,133 in restitution, Emami said, but it was unclear if she had the means to do so.

From Sept. 30, 2002, until Feb. 6, 2006, Granger was an office manager and bookkeeper. Emami said only church board members were authorized to sign checks, but Granger forged signatures on more than 170 checks.

The checks were made payable to herself and Caspian Scientific, a Nevada business she started with her husband, she said. Granger used some money to pay credit card debt, Emami said.

The crime was discovered when a newly arrived pastor urged church leaders to hire an accountant to sort out its finances, Emami said.


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