Church Finance Manager Sentenced to 4+ Years for Embezzling $261,000

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A Christ the King finance manager who embezzled more than a quarter of a million dollars from the church was sentenced today to more than four years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

Former Christ the King Cathedral Church Lubbock employee Nathan Allen Webb, 43, pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud. He was sentenced Thursday to 51 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who ordered him to pay $261,440.20 in restitution.

According to plea papers, Mr. Webb – the only church employee with access to the church’s PayPal and Venmo accounts – admitted he transferred $261,440.20 in parishioner donations from the church to himself using those platforms.  Over the course of 18 months, he made more than 230 unauthorized transfers.  He then altered church bank statements to make PayPal and Venmo debits appear as credits, thus concealing his criminal activity from the church finance committee and diocese.

On February 23, 2021, Mr. Webb traveled to Colombia, South America, taking a church laptop with him. While in Colombia, on March 2, he transferred $2,914.07 from the Church’s PayPal account to his personal PayPal account and then to his bank account. The church discovered his fraud and confronted him the following day.

At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors told the judge that following the confrontation, Mr. Webb remained in Colombia, eventually overstaying his visa. The Colombian government ordered him to leave the country, so he purchased a ticket from Cartagena to Fort Lauderdale, where he knew FBI agents would be waiting for him. Instead of boarding the flight, however, he traveled more than 500 miles inland to Pereira. Colombian officials there located and detained him; they continued to hold him based upon an Interpol Red Notice until the U.S. government negotiated his release and returned him to Texas.

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Given Mr. Webb’s calculated plot to evade law enforcement, the judge agreed an obstruction of justice enhancement was appropriate.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation with substantial assistance from FBI agents stationed in Colombia. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Howey prosecuted the case.