Friday, May 20th, 2016

Church money theft case settled

By Claire Giesige
MINSTER - The civil case filed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati and St. Augustine Catholic Church of Minster against a former religious education director and her husband has been settled.
The parties agreed on Monday that Jane M. Boeke, 58, and her husband, Ronald, would be responsible for $162,761, which is the remaining amount of restitution owed by Jane Boeke in the criminal case that concluded in 2014.
In October 2014, Jane Boeke was sentenced to 360 days in jail, five years of community-control sanctions and ordered to repay $209,556 on two theft charges.
She had been director of religious education for 19 years at St. Augustine in Minster and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Egypt until she was fired in June 2013.
A change in parish bookkeeping personnel in early 2013 led to the discovery of discrepancies in some accounts. Church officials hired a forensic accountant and contacted the Minster Police Department. The investigation was then handed over to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Jane Boeke pleaded guilty in September to two fourth-degree felony counts of theft. The charges covered the theft of a total of $190,000. Her restitution also includes $19,556 to pay for the forensic investigation.
In January 2015, the archdiocese and St. Augustine sued Jane Boeke to recover $194,000 the church claimed she had taken. In July, her husband was added to the complaint, as the church claimed he had benefited from the theft.
In the suit, the church claimed Jane Boeke had spent the money on various things, including trips, hotels, food and alcohol, clothing, sporting event tickets, jewelry, baby items and a high-definition TV.
Jane Boeke has repaid about $46,795, court records show. Prior to the civil settlement, a jury trial had been scheduled for June, records show.
The $162,761 amount agreed to in the civil suit will not be in addition to the $209,556 restitution ordered in the criminal case. The agreement resulted in Ronald Boeke's also being responsible for paying back the funds.
The two must make payments under the settlement agreement. If they fail to do so, the entire unpaid judgment amount will become due in full, court records show.
Dan Andriacco, archdiocese director of communications, said the decision to settle came after it became clear recovering the full amount would not be possible.
"We did settle for a smaller amount than we believe was actually stolen. The reason for that was simply a concession to reality," he said. "We became convinced this was the largest amount of money we could get in restitution."
He said in such a situation, church officials work with law enforcement to see that justice is carried out.
"It's not really our money. It belongs to the individuals who contributed out of the goodness of their hearts," he said.
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