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Lafayette man charged after $60K missing from church

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – An employee for a Lafayette church has been charged with theft after authorities say the man stole more than $60,000 from the religious institution.

Prosecutors have charged 32-year-old Christopher Ward with a Level 5 felony count of theft in regards to funds stolen from Cornerstone Baptist Church, 2400 Edgelea Drive, in Lafayette.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Ward was hired in July 2015 as a part-time financial secretary to maintain church accounts. The pastor said he was given a church checkbook to take care of finances. He was also to pay himself a weekly check of just over $200 for his services.

But in January, church officials contacted police regarding the theft. The pastor told police when he approached Ward about the money, he admitted stealing around $60,000 from the church. Court documents state that Ward told church officials, he “had been robbing you blind for months.”

After a review of the bank account, authorities said 81 unauthorized checks were drafted by Ward to himself over a period between September 2015 to January 2016. During that time, a total amount of $61,048.84 was taken from the Cornerstone Baptist Church bank account. Most of the checks were cashed and/or deposited in Ward’s account, documents state.