Buffalo News

Ex-church worker admits $40,000 theft
News Staff Reporter
A former staff member at Grand Island's St. Timothy Evangelical Lutheran Church pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing almost $40,000 in church funds before she resigned last December when confronted about the church's money problems.

Renee P. Kippley, 44, of Cardinal Lane, Grand Island, pleaded guilty as charged to one count of third-degree grand larceny as she was arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia on an indictment handed up last week by an Erie County grand jury.

Kippley was allowed to remain free without bail pending her sentencing Dec. 8.

She told the judge that she had used some of the embezzled funds to pay off her personal credit card debt. According to court papers, she also placed church funds in her own bank account and gave her parents some of the embezzled money.

Kippley, who was executive director of the church's child care center, declined to comment as she left the courtroom.

Kippley was linked to the theft of church funds, including the illegal use of church credit cards for personal purchases, between December 2001 and last December, according to John C. Doscher, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's White Collar Crime Bureau, and court officials.

Church officials called prosecutors after the church's money problems became apparent last December. Doscher said full restitution will be sought, and Kippley is expected to bring a certified check for at least $20,000 to sentencing in two months. Buscaglia can impose a sentence ranging from probation up to seven years in state prison, court officials said.