Embezzling Tampa Church Accountant Pleads Guilty

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A 45-year-old Tampa woman has pleaded guilty one count of wire fraud in connection with embezzling from a church.

United States Attorney Lee Bentley announced Thursday that Juliet Ellis faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Under the agreement, she’ll also have to pay the church restitution of $82,838.

A sentencing date has not been set.

The plea agreement says Ellis started working as financial secretary at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church in 2007.

She was promoted to business manager and was responsible for the church payroll.

The agreement says Ellis manipulated the payroll by falsely increasing the amount directly deposited to her account for her paycheck.

She also failed to pay her child’s tuition for the day school.

The case was investigated by the FBI and Tampa Police.

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