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Accused church embezzler Melissa Miles facing charges

6:33 PM, Nov 9, 2012   |    comments
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Melissa Miles, 39 was arrested Thursday while on her way to a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant off of Wolfensburger Road in Castle Rock around 11:30 a.m. A citizen reported her whereabouts to police. She'd avoided arrest for a week, since her warrant was issued Nov. 1. 

According to Miles' arrest warrant, she stole $25,918.22 from Faith Lutheran Church pre-school in Castle Rock.

"Yes of course we feel duped," Fred Hessler, spokesman for the Faith Lutheran Church, said. "The pre-school is a very successful ministry of our church. It's well established in Castle Rock and the pre-school had built up reserve funds over quite a few years over some future purpose, and that's what she took advantage of."

Between December 2011 and July 2012, Miles charged the pre-school's debit card 109 times, according to police. She is also accused of taking the organization's King Soopers gift cards, used to raise money.

According to the warrant, Miles spent the money on air travel, clothes, supplies, food, gas and other personal items.

The church sought charges through the Castle Rock Police Department after it filed a report of theft in September.

The amount of money was significant for the church, Hessler said. The pre-school had to cut employee pay by 10 to 15 percent to keep the school operating.

"It's a substantial part of the reserve fund. It did cause some cash flow issues earlier in the school year," Hessler said. "It was certainly a blow."

Hessler told 9NEWS the pre-school did a background check before hiring Miles, but nothing stuck out.

"Churches are high trust environments," Hessler said. "It's very easy for someone with bad intent to make an unfortunate degree of progress before anyone suspects what they're up to."

Castle Rock's Faith Lutheran said it didn't love the fact that Miles, a mother, was in jail.
But says something had to be done.

"We were actually offered by her attorney a settlement of approximately $8,000 in order to not pursue criminal charges against her," Hessler said. "And even though at that particular moment the pre-school could've used that money, our congregation council rejected the settlement offer. We feel an obligation to protect innocent people from foreseeable danger. We think that it's entirely foreseeable that she would attempt to do this to another school in the future and we can't let that happen."

This is not the first time Miles has faced theft charges.

9Wants to Know obtained a lawsuit out of Douglas County showing theft allegations back in 2009.

The business partner, who spoke anonymously to 9NEWS, said she didn't move forward with the lawsuit because of an expensive legal battle.

"She paid for a wedding, furniture and pets and Christmas presents. The list goes on and on," the former business partner said. "We just want to see her stopped. We don't want to see her hurt anyone else."

Miles is expected for her preliminary hearing on Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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