(WSVN) - A 72-year-old woman was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

According to court documents, Marie Carson, of Indianapolis, Ind., illegally transferred approximately $573,836.59 from the business accounts of a Catholic church and related school in Indianapolis to her own personal bank accounts from 2008 to 2021.

Carson was the parish’s business manager and was responsible for processing checks received from parishioners, conducting financial transactions on behalf of the church and school and was the sole staff member in charge of managing the parish’s finances.

“For more than thirteen years, this defendant abused her position of trust to embezzle money from parishioners intended for a church and school,” said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Authorities said Carson’s scheme was exposed when she was on leave from her position in November of 2021 and her temporary replacement noticed suspicious transfers from the parish’s gaming account to an external bank account. Over $289,000 in transfers were made to multiple accounts, including a phantom account created in the church’s name.

Carson made false entries into the database used by the parish to track payments. A significant amount of money was used by Carson and her husband for casino gambling and an annual, month-long vacation to Florida, the DOJ said.

“Her greed and desire for lavish vacations outweighed her interest in following the dictates of our criminal laws and the teachings of her church, ‘thou shalt not steal,’ said Myers. The sentence imposed today sends a clear message to those who might seek to steal, defraud, and embezzle: we will find you, you will be prosecuted, and you will be held accountable.”

The DOJ said the actual monetary loss is likely much higher, as Carson admitted to church officials that she began this scheme in 2004.

Carson will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for two years following her release from federal prison and is ordered to pay $573,836.59 in restitution.

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