GASTONIA, N.C. (ABP) -- A North Carolina couple made their first court appearance Aug. 12 on charges that they embezzled more than $360,000 from their Baptist church.
According to media reports, Alan Roland, 55, was treasurer and Sunday school superintendant at Way of the Cross Baptist Church in Mount Holly, N.C. His wife, Linda, 55, was the assistant treasurer and church secretary. Together, police say, they wrote 811 checks to themselves totaling $366,156 over the last three years.
Both are being held in lieu of $30,000 bond in the Gaston County Jail on charges of felony conspiracy and embezzlement.
Church members found out there was a problem when a contractor who had resurfaced the parking lot complained about not getting paid. Thinking there was $100,000 in the church bank account, they found nothing.
While embezzlement charges normally only cover a period of three years, the arresting officer said the couple had been stealing from the church for the past 10 to 12 years. They allegedly created an illusion of well-balanced funds by floating checks from one account to another.
Some of the money was from a fund set up to provide for the pastor in lieu of health insurance. The congregation of about 60 active members has held bake sales to raise money to pay bills since discovering the missing money.
The Rolands reportedly told church members they only intended to borrow the money, but over time the amount became overwhelming. At their court appearance, they told the judge they could not afford an attorney and public defenders were appointed to defend them.