A woman who once kept records for a central Iowa church is headed to federal prison after embezzling huge amounts of money from the church over a 4-year period.

Last week, 47-year-old Melissa Noland of Polk City, Iowa was sentenced to two years in federal prison for taking more than a quarter of a million dollars from a Mason City church from January 2015 through January 2019. The Gazette reports the First United Methodist Church in Mason City was the unlucky victim of Noland's dishonesty.

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According to the United States Attorney's Office North District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Noland plead guilty to wire fraud in May of this year. An investigation by the Mason City Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined that during the time Noland worked for the church, she pilfered funds in a variety of ways. Noland paid her own credit card bills using bank accounts from the church, paid herself extra, and even wrote checks to herself, using the checkbook from the church.

The total amount of money Noland stole from the church? An eye-popping $274,222.09. When the embezzlement was discovered, she was fired. Now, Noland will be spending 27 months in federal prison, not eligible for parole. After the prison term ends, she'll also have 3-years of supervised release. Noland was also ordered to pay restitution for every penny she took from the church. Sadly, I expect the church won't likely see anywhere near that amount of money returned.

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