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Church Secretary|Swiped $605,000

COLUMBIA, S.C. (CN) - A 67-year-old secretary and bookkeeper pleaded guilty to stealing more than $605,000 from the South Carolina church for which she worked.

Sandra Stroupe had worked at the 121-year-old Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Clover, S.C., for nearly four decades when she began altering checks and depositing them into the church's Women's Society account, the only account from which she was authorized to deposit and withdraw money, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Columbia.

From May 2006 through April 2013, prosecutors say, Stroupe methodically altered checks, deposited them and withdrew the money for her own use.

A church official with access to the books finally noticed that money was missing and reported it to the Clover Police Department, which notified the FBI.

Stroupe pleaded guilty this week to mail fraud, before U.S. District Judge Margaret B. Seymour in Columbia

She could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, fined up to $250,000, and has agreed to pay restitution, prosecutors said.

Clover, pop. 5,200, is in north central South Carolina, near the North Carolina line.

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