By: Patti Weaver

(Stillwater, Okla.) — A former employee of the First United Methodist Church in Cushing pleaded guilty Friday to embezzlement by using a church credit card to obtain items for her own use.

Ericka Denea Mitchell, 45, was placed on five years’ probation by District Judge Phillip Corley, who ordered her to pay $14,000 restitution, do 100 hours of community service, and have a mental health evaluation as well as perform any recommended treatment. She also must pay a prosecution fee, court costs and $350 in other assessments.

Reverend Kathleen Leithner “reported that an employee embezzled a large amount of church funds for personal use,” during a conversation on Dec. 21, 2017, at the police station, Cushing Police Officer Jerrod Livergood wrote in an affidavit.

“On March 21, 2018, I received a folder containing Rev. Alan McIntyre’s report detailing apparent fraudulent transactions made by Ericka Mitchell beginning on 11-28-2012 through 3-31-2017,” the Cushing officer wrote in an affidavit.

“McIntyre believed that approximately $15,732.59 was spent on church credit cards for Mitchell’s personal use. McIntyre included multiple purchases that he was unable to get a receipt for to verify if it was purchased for the church,” the affidavit said.

On May 30, 2018, Mitchell voluntarily came to the Cushing Police Department on the officer’s request, the affidavit said.

“Ericka Mitchell said that she did use the church funds to purchase personal items for herself. Mitchell said “it was very wrong and awful of me and I want to take it all back,” the affidavit said.

“Mitchell said she would help distinguish each of the items in question to determine if they were for the church or personal use. I provided Mitchell a copy of the Cushing FUMC review of credit card expenditures that was completed by McIntyre.

“The charges that she admitted to making for personal use totaled $6,455.18,” the Cushing officer wrote in his affidavit.

The officer later received a response from Amazon as a result of a search warrant, the affidavit said.

‘The response contained a 222-page list of the items with details as requested. I reviewed the list and believed approximately $2,660 of the identified items from the missing receipts appeared to be personal purchases as well,” the Cushing officer wrote in his affidavit.

According to court records, embezzlement valued at more than $1,000 carries a maximum penalty of a five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine.

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