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Jan 22, 2010 12:01 PM by JThibodeaux

Former church employee sentenced for theft

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A former employee of a church in western Louisiana has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for embezzling nearly $400,000.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty on Thursday sentenced 39-year-old Julia Leppo, of Lemont, Ill., to 51 months in prison and ordered her to pay $383,000 in restitution to First Baptist Church of Westlake.

Leppo worked as a financial secretary for the church. Prosecutors say she obtained unauthorized credit cards in the names of the church and a former church employee, then used the cards to charge personal expenses and withdraw cash from ATMs.

Leppo also allegedly forged checks from the church's checking account to pay credit card balances and issued checks to herself under a fictitious name.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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