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Press Release

Woman Sentenced to 2 Years in Federal Prison for 13 Year-Long Scheme to Embezzle Nearly $600,000 from Catholic Church and School

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS- Marie Carson, 72, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

According to court documents, from 2008 to 2021, Carson illegally transferred approximately $573,836.59 from the business accounts of a Catholic church and related school in Indianapolis to her own personal bank accounts. During these thirteen years, Carson was employed at the parish as a business manager and was responsible for processing checks received from parishioners, conducting financial transactions on behalf of the church and school, and was the sole staff member in charge of managing the parish’s finances.

Carson’s scheme was exposed in November of 2021, when she was on leave from her position. Carson’s temporary replacement noticed suspicious transfers from the parish’s gaming account to an external bank account. Further investigation led to the location of over $289,000 in transfers to multiple accounts, including a phantom account created in the church’s name.

Carson was able to maintain the scheme by making false entries into the database used by the parish to track payments. A significant amount of money was used by Carson and her husband for casino gambling and an annual, month-long vacation to Florida.

The actual monetary loss is likely much higher, as Carson admitted to church officials that she began this scheme in 2004.

“For more than thirteen years, this defendant abused her position of trust to embezzle money from parishioners intended for a church and school,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “Her greed and desire for lavish vacations outweighed her interest in following the dictates of our criminal laws and the teachings of her church, ‘thou shalt not steal.’ The sentence imposed today sends a clear message to those who might seek to steal, defraud, and embezzle: we will find you, you will be prosecuted, and you will be held accountable.”

“This scheme was fueled by pure greed. For more than a decade, the defendant abused the trust of the church and its parishioners to line her own pocket,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton. “While she may have benefited in the short term, in the end this perpetrator’s deception landed her behind bars. The FBI and our partners will continue to identify and investigate those who engage in these types of illegal schemes and hold them accountable.”

The FBI investigated this case with valuable assistance provided by IMPD. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Chief Tanya Walton Pratt. Judge Pratt also ordered that Carson be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 2 years following her release from federal prison and that she pay $573,836.59 in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney James M. Warden, who prosecuted this case.

Updated February 13, 2023

Financial Fraud