An officer manager for an Indianapolis church faces charges of theft and forgery, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday, after more than $177,000 was stolen from the church’s bank accounts.
Prosecutor Terry Curry filed the charges against Stephanie Hicks-Karst, who worked for Pleasant View Lutheran Church from 2000 to March 2013. The thefts occurred between Jan. 1, 2011, and May 31, 2013.
Hicks-Karst was arrested Tuesday and faces an initial court hearing later this week.
According to the charges, the accused made about $48,000 in unauthorized purchases on the church’s business credit card and then paid the credit card balances using the business checking account.
The prosecutor’s office said Hicks-Karst forged a church treasurer’s signature when using the checking account.
The credit card purchases were made for personal purchases at several gas stations and a variety of traditional and online retailers, including Target, Dress Barn, Pier 1, Petco, Bath & Body Works, Papa John’s, Hip Girl Boutique, Taylor’s Pub, WeightWatchers.com, Amazon.com and Trader Joe’s.
Hicks-Karst allegedly made another $129,000 in unauthorized cash transfers from the church’s business account into her personal accounts.
All three charges are Class C felonies that carry penalties from two to eight years in prison.