DES MOINES, Iowa — 69 year-old Carol Jean Padgett was arrested and taken to the Polk County Jail on December 5, on charges of felony theft. A police report says the president of Unity Lutheran Church met with police “to report that the Treasurer of the church, identified as Carol Padgett, had taken over $10,888 since August of 2015 by using the credit or debit card owned by the church…” The report goes on to state that “when it began time to pay bills, the pastor was made aware that they didn’t have enough money to cover the expenses.”
“If you`re always short on money, people don`t pay attention, so it`s one of those things that creeps up on you,” said Attorney Marlon Mormann, spokesperson for Unity Lutheran Church. “You rely on one person that you`ve trusted all of your life and for many years and this person, they trusted for 15 years and never saw any reason not to,” said Mormann.
On a good Sunday, the little church across from Stowe Elementary has about 45 people in the pews, and can’t afford to lose that kind of money. “Short on money means you`re so close that you can`t hardly keep your monthly bills paid. You can`t pay your utilities, you can`t pay all the necessary expenses that are there and you know when you get to that point, it`s getting close to closing the doors,” said Mormann.
And that may have been the plan. “The theory is that Carol Padgett tried to close the doors on the church to cover up her crime trail, because if the church had closed, everything would have disappeared and nobody would have ever known,” said Padgett. The church estimates over a period of years Padgett stole up to $70,000 or more. “I think there`s a lesson here for small non-profits. I think that the lesson is the bank statements need to go to more than just one person. It should go to every person on the board, and there should be regular audits conducted,” said Mormann.