Former church finance director arrested for taking money as reimbursement for classes she didn’t take | Crime

The former finance director at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was charged Friday for fraudulently obtaining $27,930.03 from the church while she worked there between 2018 and 2020, Winston-Salem police said.

Marilyn Bertelsen has been arrested on three felony counts of obtaining property under false pretense. The warrants claim she obtained the money for tuition — and, on one count, materials — as a reimbursement for college courses she never took.

She took money on three occasions: the first on Feb. 15, 2018, when she obtained $4,568, then from Aug. 20 to Dec. 13, 2019, when she obtained $19,800.27, and the third time on March 17, 2020 when she obtained $3,561.76, according to warrants.

In a letter to parishioners sent Friday, Father Christopher Gober said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte in found the discrepancies in claimed reimbursements paid to Bertelsen in their routine financial audit of August 2020. He elaborated that insurance fully reimbursed the parish, so they faced no financial impact

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He assured the parishioners that no other former or current staff were involved.

Bertelsen resigned in November 2020, according to Liz Chandler, the director of communications at the diocese.

According to police, in January 2021, the church, located on Springdale Avenue, and the diocese came to police to request an investigation into Bertelsen. The police said their fraud unit determined from this investigation that she had fraudulently obtained this money.

She was given a $7,500 bond and will appear in court Monday, the police said.

Bertelsen did not answer when called for comment. It is unclear whether she has an attorney at this point.

“While I am grateful this situation has been resolved, I am mindful of its impact on people’s lives,” Gober said, asking his parishioners to pray for those affected.

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koglesby@wsjournal.com

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