Woman who stole from churches sentenced to jail

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) A Huron woman who stole more than $140,000 from two Sandusky churches was sentenced to four years in prison today.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 4, 2012

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) A Huron woman who stole more than $140,000 from two Sandusky churches was sentenced to four years in prison today.

Deborah Collinsworth, 48, was taken to the Erie County Jail after the hearing. She will be eligible to apply for judicial release after serving six months in prison.

Whenever she is released, Collinsworth will be required to pay full restitution to both churches. Ten church members attended the sentencing hearing.

Collinsworth was a part-time bookkeeper at both Emmanuel United Church of Chris, 344 Columbus Ave., and First Faith Community Church, 225 Jefferson St.

When church board members found discrepancies in bank statements in March last year, they reported her to police.

Collinsworth and her family also face lawsuits filed by both churches, seeking restitution for the stolen funds as well as punitive damages.

For more on what Collinsworth had to say at the hearing, pick up Friday's edition of the Sandusky Register.



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"take your nieces (i'll tell ya which ones, if ya ask) with ya!"


Sandusky Register....you should worry more about your grammar and spelling in the stories that your "journalist" write instead of moderating what we post. The Norwalk Reflector is terrible, yet better than your paper! BOOM ROASTED!


I wonder if she told the court "The Devil made me do it!"?


Hey is Marconi's going to hold her job open until she gets out???  Better re-check all your credit card receipts!!!  lol


yeah, Secretary1 ...... you can bet she was super experienced at that. don't feel 1 iota of compassion for the bed she made!


She will NEVER do the entire four years!  Come on!  I present to you the typical "FEEL GOOD" liberal, judicial justice prevalent in this liberal state.  She WILL be out in six months and she will NOT pay back a dime.  How hard is that to understand?  This is a fiduciary, non-violent felony.  This is NOT a violent crime.  Once she walks out of prison, it will be right back to the books for someone else.  Maybe that "just visiting" stint in prison will turn her around to be an HONEST bookkeeper for someone else in another town.      


Yep Taxpayer .. that liberal justice system deal with those conservative right wing law breaking citizens. I guess I can always hope that your posts, someday, are liberally endowed with intelligence!!

As to the justice system, I wish that when a judge gave someone a sentence that there was no short way out. That lady deserves to serve at least 4 years and all of her assets frozen and property sold to repay the churches. I suppose that's why the lawsuits have been filed! People who touch money anywhere should be carefully chosen and liberally bonded.

Taxed Enough Already

you are correct...she is out now (January 2013)


As a member of one of the churches she stole from all I have to say is, she had a chance to try to start paying restitutuion and she didn't.  And she didn't feel she should have to go to jail either?????  Well, for a long time this person had " God's last name isn't Damn it" on her Facebook page......well it isn't, "you should steal from my church" either.  I realize we will never get the money she stole from us back,k but maybe this will at least give her time to think about what she did. And it's a real shame, because our church is only barely hanging on and we really couldn't afford for this to happen to us.


I'm so glad God doesn't operate the way people on earth do. If we all got what we deserved we wouldn't have much. Thankfully, He is merciful. I hope Mrs. Collinsworth will come through this and be a better person after.

Scott Templeton

this might be a straight to hell crime


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She pled guilty, said she couldn't repay,and also didn't feel she should have to go to jail either.  I've heard she/her family has a camper and a boat??????  Not sure, but maybe they could have put them up for sale as a sign of her/their intention to repay and maybe she wouldn't have had to go to jail.  It is a shame and yes, as a church we really did want toforgive her, but she made no attempt to apologize or repay and with times as tough as they are........it's very hard for small struggling churches to make it and this surely doesn't help.  Yes, God would be more forgiving...........but we sadly, are only human and only have our legal system to deal with things here on earth.


This is a Christian conundrum. Should she be forgiven 7 times 7 times 70? Or should God strike her down like Ananias and Sapphire? Please to meet you, hope you guess my name………

Being I'm a nosy old lady what the heck did she do with the money that she took?


She paid for her son's college, went on vacations, bought a camper, a boat, 4 wheelers and paid for her other son's funeral.


hey babycakes ...... she's gonna pay it back, remember? .... of course ..... her husband had no knowledge of this act ....... cause ..... he thought ..... money grew on trees!


So possibly she could only serve 6 months?  It says she'll be required to pay restitution after release so I guess she might have to sell the boat and camper.  Good.


I am sorry that I cannot say something nice her, like we should all forgive her, but I can't do it.  A thief is a thief, no matter what way you say it. 

Why shouldn't she go to jail?  She should stay there UNTIL restitution is made, then she can get out.  Let her family work off the money they enjoyed while she stole it.  Why should she get out and THEN repay it.

She won't, you know.  That is a fantasy that just won't ever come true.  Oh, the church's can sue and get a judgement but she could file bankruptcy and they won't see a cent of it back.  Or she could refuse to pay and not go back to work.  But she won't repay that money.

So keep her in jail until it is repaid and then let her out.  Sell what she bought and put it toward the money owed.  I just cannot believe that someone would do this from a CHURCH of all places, but I guess temptation was greater than grace.  How sad. 

It is even sadder that I cannot find it in my heart to forgive her, so I guess I am just as guilty


WiredMama222 said: "She should stay there UNTIL restitution is made, then she can get out. "

Boy is that a great idea! What's the motivation to repay her debt to the victims if she's let out early? Making it a condition of release will send her and those who want her out scurrying to find the $140K. Great idea!


re:wiredmama- I believe she should be punished too. But we are to forgive. There is no option considering how in the Bible it says that we will not be forgiven if we do not also forgive. I don't know about you, but I want God to forgive me for my sins. We are not the judges of people's actions. She has gone through the judicial system and has been given her punishment. Whether we think it is fair or not isn't the issue. Now it is between her and God. I'm sure when she lost her son many said she got what she deserved. I am thankful God doesn't operate that way. He forgives us day after day if we will but ask and be truly sorry. Forgiveness isn't just about the person who hurt you, it is for you as well. Without it, bitterness and resentment build up inside you and that isn't good for anyone. I hope and pray that you can make peace with this situation. 


new creation.....you are absolutely right.  I should forgive her.  I guess it will just take some time for me to forgive and forget the pain she has caused the people of the churches she has hurt while she and her family lived it up on money she had no right to take. 

I should not feel the way I do.  I will try to forgive.  I really will. 

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

Fortunately forgiveness is an act of your will and not your feelings or emotions....the churches involved are duty bounty by Christ to forgive...forgive now... the feelings will follow. Healing will come...even for the offender. Lessons to be learned here on a variety of levels if our hearts don't entertain bitterness and resentment toward this one fallen from grace. Her imprisonment will be a small portion of the punishment from the consequences of her wrong choices...her sin. It's not easy for a felon to get a job. She will live with this the rest of her life.


Does:  " You shall not steal, " ring a bell ?


how come some people can steal or embezzle and get probation? what abouit that bank vp who stole close to half a million?


 I can see forgiving some one for a single act and who is repentant, but don't expect it if you continue to do it over a period of time because you had opportunity to stop make amends and didn't. 


 I look at the photo and Dana Carvey as "Church Lady" comes to mind!


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