A former part-time bookkeeper has entered pleas to three charges related to the theft of more than $100,000 from the church school that employed her.
Brandi Berry, 40, 420 Holgate Ave., pleaded guilty in Defiance County Common Pleas Court to aggravated theft, a third-degree felony; and two counts of forgery, each a fifth-degree felony.
Judge Joseph Schmenk ordered a pre-sentence investigation and continued Berry’s personal-recognizance bond. Sentencing was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 7.
According to Defiance County Prosecutor Morris Murray, the state is seeking restitution of $169,000, while the defense has agreed that the figure is “well in excess” of $100,000. Murray did not make a sentencing recommendation.
A March grand jury indictment — which contained the three charges to which Berry pleaded — alleged that she stole funds from St. John Lutheran School, 655 Wayne Ave., between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018. The charges also alleged that she “forged several checks as part of the fraudulent scheme used to gain access to the stolen funds,” according to Murray.
He said Berry was employed at the school as a part-time bookkeeper since sometime in 2016. An investigation into the theft began in early November.
The Defiance Police Department conducted the investigation, Murray explained earlier this year, after receiving a “report and complaint from concerned administrative people (at the school) who had done some internal investigating and became increasingly concerned that there was the possibility of substantial funds missing and that some sort of internal theft might be happening.”
The maximum penalty for aggravated theft is three years in prison, according to Murray, while each forgery charges carries a maximum term of 12 months.
Berry is represented by Defiance attorney E. Charles Bates.