Round Rock Pastor Pleads Guilty

By Isadora Vail
Austin American-Statesman
August 21, 2008

A Round Rock pastor who admitted to stealing more than $500,000 from his church pleaded guilty today in District Judge Ken Anderson's court.

Donald Clyde, 49, turned himself in last August after he told officials he took money from the Forest Creek Church in Round Rock to buy vacations, property, horses and boats. He told police that he used the church's bank accounts and credit cards for the purchases.

A church accountant noticed some strange charges on the accounts, and when a leadership group began looking into the case, Clyde stepped down. He had been with the church, which has a membership of about 1,500, since 1992.

Clyde pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft, both of which carry a penalty of up to life in prison. But prosecutors and Clyde's defense attorney, Marc Ranc, asked that Clyde receive five years in prison for the first charge and 10 years probation for the second charge, and that the sentences run concurrently.

Anderson accepted Clyde's guilty pleas, but ordered a pre-sentencing interview to consider the facts of the case, including that he has paid $343,000 in restitution.

Marc Ranc, Clyde's attorney, said his client stole about $700,000 from the church.

"From the beginning, Mr. Clyde took responsibility and cooperated with the district attorney's office," Ranc said. "The church is the most important thing to him."

Clyde's sentencing is set for Oct. 2.


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