Ex-employee accused of stealing $151K from church

Rebekah Talley, 33, is charged with aggregate theft.

January 17, 2012 4:06:10 PM PST
Over one hundred thousand dollars gone; hard-earned money from churchgoers hoping their prayers would get answered. Instead, authorities say that money went into the pockets of a church bookkeeper.

The suspect in the case was trusted by the church to handle finances, and now she's in custody, accused of ripping off the church and its members.

Rebekah Talley is in jail. Church members are reacting the way you might expect -- they are doing their best to look past their anger and disappointment to offer Talley their forgiveness.

For nearly three years, Talley was a trusted employee at St. John Lutheran Church on Spring Cypress Rd. in northwest Harris County. But this week, all that changed after police arrested the 33-year-old accounting clerk for allegedly stealing more than $150,000 from the church.

"We believe those are accurate to the best we know. We've made a statement to the congregation in a letter that we sent out," said Steve Saunders.

In the letter, the church's senior pastor writes, "it is our hope that Rebekah is truly repentant, seek's God mercy and forgiveness, and able to repay these funds. Please keep her and her family in your prayers."

Talley is accused of writing forged checks on behalf of the church and depositing them into her personal account at a credit union. Once the church realized the money was missing, officials tried reaching Talley several times, but were unsuccessful. So they contacted police instead.

"It's regretful. It's a regretful incident that we wish didn't happen, but it doesn't shake our faith and we continue on," Saunders said.

On the day church workers found the discrepancies and confronted Talley, she allegedly left the church claiming she was sick and took a trash bag with her and never returned to work. That was back in May 2011.

We contacted Talley's attorney and are still awaiting a response.

Talley was arrested on January 12. She is charged with aggregate theft. Bond is set at $302,000.