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Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Minster woman charged with theft

Indictment alleges more than $150,000 stolen from churches

By Kathy Thompson
MINSTER - A former employee of a local Catholic church cluster was indicted Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $150,000 from the parishes.
Jane M. Boeke, 56, of Minster, was indicted for theft, a third-degree felony, for allegedly taking between $150,000 and $750,000 from the church between Dec. 26, 2001, and May 28, 2013. She pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court.
Boeke - who served about 19 years as director of religious education for the parishes of St. Augustine in Minster and St. Joseph in Egypt - faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
She was released on her own recognizance and no further court proceedings have been scheduled, according to Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce.
Bond conditions require she turn over her passport to the court and appear at the Minster Police department at least once each day to check in.
Pierce would not comment further on the case.
Minster Police Chief Randy Houseworth said he would not release any further information at this time but noted no other arrests are expected in the case. He refused to say how much Boeke allegedly stole or how the money was spent.
Boeke, her attorney, Ralph Bauer, and the Rev. Rick Nieberding, head pastor of the parishes, could not be reached for comment.
Boeke, who worked at the church since 1994, was terminated from her position in June 2013, according to Dan Andriacco, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Andriacco said local church officials last spring informed the archdiocese of irregularities in charges on three church credit card accounts. After a meeting with archdiocese officials, Nieberding and members of the church finance committees, Boeke admitted to misuse of some credit cards, but not all the money she is accused of stealing, according to Andriacco.
"A situation like this is always painful for the church and the parish," he said. "We have all cooperated with law enforcement regarding this issue. It's devastating when someone in a trusted position steals."
Andriacco said the church wants Boeke to spend time in prison for the theft.
"I will say that she admitted to spending the money on personal expenditures," he said. "Those expenditures were in no way related to the church."
Andriacco said most of the loss is covered by insurance, but the church is responsible for $10,000 in deductibles.
"That's a huge amount of money for the church to lose," he said, adding officials hope that she will sell some assets to recover the money taken. "This has had a deep impact on the church. When something like this happens, it sends a ripple far and wide."
Andriacco said officials also ask that Boeke spend time in prison to "send a message."
"If you steal from the church, you will be caught and you will face justice," he said. "Hopefully in this case, jail. We truly believe that punishment is appropriate."
The investigation surrounding the case included a forensic accountant who was asked to review the church accounts from 2002 to 2010, Andriacco said. Upon completion, the report was turned over to the Minster police, he said.
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