Update Regarding 2016 Theft
November 18, 2019
Dear Parish and School Families,
In June of 2016, the bookkeeper at the time, Amber McCracken, was dismissed from her duties here at St. Francis de Sales Parish by Father Jan Sullivan. As is customary, when a bookkeeper leaves a parish the Diocese performs an extensive internal audit. In July of 2016 the Columbus Diocese informed Fr. Sullivan that there were findings of misallocation of Parish and School funds by Mrs. McCracken. Following the Diocesan investigation, Fr. Jan Sullivan and the parish leadership team turned findings over to the local law enforcement for prosecution.
Over the past three years, our parish leadership team and the Diocese have been in communication with detectives and prosecutors as they investigated financial records, files, and emails, leading to today when the civil court made its final sentencing. Mrs. McCracken was sentenced to 18-months in prison. She pleaded guilty to one count each of felony theft of the third degree and records tampering, a felony of the fourth degree. She was ordered to serve three years’ probation following her jail time and pay restitution in the amount of $172,704.96. The restitution awarded will be returned to the Diocese of Columbus for the amounts loaned to St. Francis and later forgiven by Bishop Campbell.
Thank you to our families who have supported and prayed for our parish and school during a time of betrayal and hurt that no one expects a faith community to experience, and please know that I have regularly prayed for the families in our faith community who have been hurt by this sin, and I continue to pray for everyone’s healing.
In order to ensure that something like this never happens again here at St. Francis, we have made several adjustments in our operations. An outside professional accounting firm, Kaiser Consulting, was hired by the parish to audit our financial records and processes and make recommendations for changes in our staff and accounting procedures. Since my arrival as pastor, we have implemented these recommendations and we follow the general accounting principles and best practices, including separation of duties. Along these lines, we added a Business Manager two years ago to our staff, a Director of Accounting and Development, and a new Parish Bookkeeper. A more robust charter was put into place for our Parish Finance Council and they have been of tremendous help in implementing best practices for the financial operations of our parish, accounting and reporting. We now publish an Annual Stewardship Report to the parish and run an Annual Offertory Drive, asking all parishioners to make a written pledge and give to the parish in identifiable and trackable ways, such as Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) and checks. We recently completed another audit by Kaiser ensure we are following all their recommendations and best practices. The diocese also audits our books regularly.
I want to formally thank all of those involved in the past, and presently, Fr. Jan Sullivan, Lori Mazzone, Maggie Wright and Sally Mummey, for helping to work with authorities to bring this painful chapter in our parish life to a close. Thanks to their efforts we can move forward with the confidence that justice has been applied and trust has been restored.
Many good things are happening here at St. Francis and there is much excitement as we see hearts burning with love for Christ and our mission. I ask for your continued prayers for our parish and school, as we experience growth in faith as a community of believers, and please pray for Mrs. McCracken’s family.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. David Sizemore
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10
on Monday, November 18, 2019 at 4:41PM