Accountant at Union Chapel Church accused of stealing $200,000

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, IN -  The keeper of the gold at Union Chapel United Methodist Church has entered a plea deal on charges that she stole $200,000 in church collections and used it on vacations, home repairs and other personal needs.

 Angela Linder, 42, was charged with federal wire fraud, carrying up to 20 years in prison, for alledgedly writing fraudulent checks, making fraudulent credit card purchases and even paying inflated wages all from church funds. Linder also abused a charitable fund for victims of a fire.

 This was all done during the last decade when the church saw tremendous growth with their popular One Eighty youth program that brought many UMC families to Union Chapel on Broadway.

 Linder was accounting administrator in charge of payroll, tax returns and other administrative duties under the supervision of pastor Gregg Parris. She left the church office in May 2010.

 According to court documents, Linder spent the money on meals, vacations, home improvements and personal purchases.

U.S.. Attorney Joe Hogsett said everyone should fight the culture of corruption like the church embezzlement, adding it weakens the economy besides the sense of community.

 As the federal government announced the charges, Linder already offered a plea bargain admitting to the crime and now awaits the court to decide her fate. She has a court hearing in May when sentencing could come.

 Union Chapel has hundreds of members and is among the largest UMC chapels in eastern Indiana. Parris and other church elders were not available for comment.

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