A Cobb County woman has been found guilty of stealing more than $93,000 from the church where she worked, authorities said on Friday.
Gwendolyn Hawthorne, 62, of Marietta, allegedly pocketed $93,744.25 from Crown of Life Community Baptist Church in Powder Springs between 2007 and 2014, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.
Hawthorne, who was the church treasurer, admitted in court that she regularly used church credit and debit cards for personal purchases, cash withdrawals and at casinos.
Hawthorne’s actions cost the small Powder Springs church more than $88,000 plus an additional $5,000 in bank overdraft fees, according to a statement released by Kim Isaza, spokesperson for the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office.
To cover her tracks, she manipulated accounting reports she provided to church leaders, Isaza said.
“Theft is bad. But theft from a church is a whole new level of evil,” prosecutor John Melvin said.
Melvin said District Attorney Victor Reynolds directed the White Collar Unit to vigorously pursue thieves who are preying upon citizens.
“I encourage all churches, companies and businesses to verify that the people who handle their money are doing so with integrity,” Melvin said. “In other words, watch the watchers.”
Hawthorne was sentenced to 20 years, with two years to serve in prison and 18 years on probation. She must also pay more than $93,000 in restitution, Isaza said.
Hawthorne must report to prison March 18 at 9 a.m.