The theft took place from December 2008 to April 2019, according to the indictment.
GRAPEVINE, Texas – A former finance director of one of Texas’ largest churches – Fellowship Christian Church in Grapevine – has pleaded guilty to theft, embezzling more than $ 1.3 million for herself, according to the files of the court and police.
Lara Lynn Ford, 51, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to Tarrant County Court records. However, she can apply for shock probation, which could suspend her prison term for theft, court records said.
An audit of the church’s bank accounts revealed that Ford had stolen $ 1,377,000, according to a police violation report from the Grapevine.
The theft took place from December 2008 to April 2019, according to his indictment.
When asked by the police why she had committed the theft, she replied, “Umm, stupid,” the police report said.
She also told police she had a spending problem, the report said, and “would buy things she didn’t need and help people.”
Ford told police she started robbing Fellowship Christian by taking money from the offer, then moved on to making fraudulent bank transfers to three personal checking accounts, according to the report.
The church received $ 750,000 in insurance claims due to the theft, according to the Tarrant County DA.
The theft investigation was sparked when Fellowship CFO Christian Dennis Brewer discovered “anomalies with certain transactions” in April 2019, according to the police report.
Ford dipped into a housing allowance account used by the church to supplement the base salary of employees. Records show Ford increased his salary by an additional $ 200 every two weeks from the shelter allowance account. Then, in January 2019, Ford increased his salary by an additional $ 500 every two weeks on shelter allowance, according to the police report.
Brewer told police he started questioning “shortages” in church accounts and demoted Ford as CFO in 2018, but she still remained in the accounting department with access to housing allowance account, according to police report.
Ford started working at Fellowship Church in 2005 and had no criminal history.
The theft also comes as the Fellowship Christian Church received two PPP loans from the government of $ 1.5 million in April 2020, and another of $ 1.5 million in March 2021.
WFAA has contacted Fellowship Church and Ford’s attorney for comment.