ActivePaper Archive Church treasurer charged with embezzlement - Hobbs News Sun, 11/2/2019

Church treasurer charged with embezzlement



Hobbs city police arrested Helen Hovey, 60, of Hobbs Thursday and charged her with embezzlement of more than $20,000, a second-degree felony, and forgery, a fourth-degree felony.

According to a police report, Hovey, the treasurer of a local church, allegedly wrote checks and used a church debit card for personal benefit, totaling about $50,000, from November 2018 to June 2019.

The police detective reported the church pastor said Hovey began duties as the church treasurer sometime in October 2018. In June, a previous treasurer contacted the pastor saying he received an email from the bank advising that the church’s account had reached zero dollars.

After an internal investigation, during which Hovey allegedly admitted to the embezzlement, the pastor and another church official on Aug. 1 reported mismanagement of church funds to the police, the detective’s report said.

They presented documentation allegedly prepared by Hovey acknowledging more than $49,000 unauthorized expenditures from the church bank accounts. Later auditing showed the total may be more than $51,000.

“(The pastor) said the church’s savings account was at zero dollars and the checking/business account was actually showing to be a negative balance,” the detective’s report said.

According to police, the pastor explained the church treasurer was given a debit card in her name for the purpose of transacting business for the congregation.

The detective reported the pastor “discovered that the church’s debit card activity was not normal spending for the church, and it was discovered that there were several unauthorized purchases made for a variety of items to include motel reservations in Lubbock, Texas and grocery purchases in Odessa, Texas.”

In addition, the pastor told the detective Hovey had changed the mailing address for bank statements from the church to her own residence.

During an interview with the detective at the police station, Hovey reportedly said she “did it and I shouldn’t have.” According to the detective’s report, “She said she took the money and was willing to pay it back but wanted to confirm the church’s position on the matter.”

After obtaining warrants for bank statements, the detective worked with the pastor and other church officials to determine each unauthorized expenditure or ATM withdrawal from November to June, finding a total of $51,210.74, according to the detective’s report.

Hovey was released on $25,000 unsecured appearance bond Friday with orders to avoid contact with church members and anyone who may testify in the case. Preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 11 before Magistrate Judge Willie Henry.