A Bradford woman has been charged with allegedly taking over $23,000 from the First Baptist Church of Port Allegany while working as the church’s financial secretary.

Pamela Hamilton, 52, of Orchard Place, is charged with theft, receiving stolen property and theft by failing to make required disposition of funds, all third-degree felonies.

According to the criminal complaint, between Jan. 7, 2018, and Dec. 29, 2019, Hamilton took $23,743.76 in funds belonging to the church. The church’s pastor, Mike Culver, and a church member went to the Port Allegany Borough Police in February with statements indicating Hamilton had been the church’s financial secretary, wrote out checks to herself and cashed them, and took money from the weekly offerings, the complaint alleged.

The church’s insurance company had a forensic accounting firm conduct an audit of the church’s finances. Weekly collection reports and monthly bank statements were irregular, and the accountant calculated variances in the amount of $19,876.76. Hamilton was the person responsible for making the deposits, the complaint stated. The accountant also detailed unauthorized checks payable to “cash,” amounting to $8,445.

The complaint noted that before church officials discovered the theft, Hamilton “attempted to return a portion of the funds by depositing personal checks into the church checking account in November 2019,” and another check after the theft had been discovered, for a total of $4,800. Documents received from Hamilton’s bank showed she had signed checks written for “cash” in the amount of $8,445.

According to the complaint, Hamilton was interviewed by police, and said she would admit to taking money, but disagreed with the amount.

She was arraigned Tuesday before District Judge Bill Todd and released on $10,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 11 before Todd.

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