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Church Secretary Charged With Stealing $411,000

February 8, 1996

OTTAWA, Ohio (AP) _ A former church secretary pleaded innocent Wednesday to stealing $411,000 from collection plates to take vacations, buy a sports car and build a home with a swimming pool.

Linda Siefer says her boss, the Rev. John Hoying, stole the money from St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Kalida. That’s unfounded, prosecutor Dan Gerschutz said.

Mrs. Siefer, 39, had been in charge of counting the money from the collection plates and depositing it in the bank. She is accused of stealing between 1990 and December 1994, when she resigned after 19 years.

Hoying learned of the theft after the bank president contacted him in November 1994.

``He told me that employees told him that no $20 bills were being deposited in our account after Sunday collections,″ Hoying said. ``I knew that was strange because I saw lots of 20s.″

Sunday collections increased about $1,500 the week after Mrs. Siefer resigned, Hoying said. An audit dating back to 1990 showed that $1,200 to $1,500 probably had been stolen each week.

If convicted of theft, she could receive a 15-year sentence.

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