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

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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I forgot to MENTION that this is TYPICAL of the LIBERAL state of OHIO.  This is exactly the JUSTICE you get from THE state that voted for LIBERALS like George W. Bush and JOHN KASICH.  Don't be fooled when the liberal MEDIA tells you this is a battleground STATE.  Ha! Ha!  This state is filled with 95% LIBERALS!  This state is just FILLED with UNION BUSTING, CONFEDERATE flag waving, BUSCH LIGHT drinking, COUNTRY music listening, NASCAR driving LIBERALS!


In the paper you have "Thou shall not steal" as the headline.  That isn't correct.  If you use "thou" you need to use "shalt."  "shall" is only correct if you change "thou" to "you"

The Answer Person

Why has there been nothing in the Sandusky Register about the same type of theft by the bookkeeper from First Presbyterian Church on Jackson & Washington?


Forgiveness is not forgetting the debt. Sin's that are forgiven are done so because someone paid the fine. In the case of being forgiven by God, Christ paid the fine and cost of the sin(s) while on the cross. So, one can forgive another but restitution still needs to be made to satisfy justice. Justice is not revenge, its payment for a transgression against another. Revenge is selfish gratification and pride that somehow the transgressor is below the vengers level, God hates a pridefull attitude.

For those who say, "Judge not lest you be judged", I say finish the paragraph, Christ said that BEFORE you judge make sure you've cleansed yourself and have dealt with sins in your own life. It doesn't mean we are not to judge but to judge without being a hypocrite.

The 70 x 7 forgiveness scripture is another that is taken out of context. You can once again forgive but restitution is to be made to the one offended.

What bothers me is how the State/city will fine a person for a crime that was made towards another citizen but wont demand the citizen to be compensated for the crime that was commited to them personally, this is mockery of justice. The victim must obtain a lawyer and sue, and hopefully will get something in the end for their pain and suffering. The state however always gets their cut. This is anoher assult upon the victim and its done every day by the courts here in Sandusky. Erie County court in Avery is the worse, if you file a small claims against someone and win they won't do anything to get you payment. They won't even answer quesitons as to how to get the person who lost to pay you. Lux's clerks will tell you they don't practice law and to get a lawyer. At least in Sandusky the courts will help you get the judgement payment. Why is Lux's court so off base with this and sides with the criminals?


The Answer Person

Boy what a FAKE she is!  So she "KNOWS" god has forgiven her?  She talks to him and he answers.  cool.  What a bunch of self-serving lip.


Self-serving lip for anyone who claims to be Christian. It's not just her. "I can sin but God will forgive me if I ask."


OKAY! So I got into some trouble a while back for stealing a gallon of milk and a jar of peanut butter when I first moved to the area.  My first offense( no more than $7.56 ) And I got 3 months in jail...Please tell me how in the heck does she ONLY get 6 months in jail for stealing 14,000 DOLLARS!?  Whats wrong with this? Yea I have learned my lesson and started going to food banks(no longer need them) BUT for real???


that's 140,000, understatement!


She stole $140,000 and she should get more than 6 months in jail for it.  She can't pay it back if she's in jail and not working, but who will give her a job after this?  Religion and law have absolutely nothing in common and while she may be forgiven for her sins, she will not be forgiven for her transgressions.  She has blackened her own reputation and yet will probably get off virtually scot free..  Maybe she will have to sell everything and move away.   We can only hope. 

Julie R.

This thief won't pay one red dime of the money back to these churches that are already struggling financially --- just like the thief from the Treasurer's office that stole $150K and the employee from Huron's KeyBank that stole almost half a million. You can bet they won't pay a cent back, either.

That said --- it's a good thing Tygh Tone handled this. Had it been those other 2 hypocrite judges at the corrupt Erie County courthouse I would have had a field day on this story!

local man

It amazes me the organizations that have people handling their money do not have them bonded.  In these type of situations the bond would have replaced the money and the bonding company would take back their assets.  Bonds are affordable for organizations - take note and get your affairs in order.


The age old copout for non-Christians. It is not about sinning habitually and willfully and assuming God will forgive. He knows the heart of a person so he knows if they are truly sorry. My handbook for life is the Holy Bible so I believe it when God says "If you will confess your sin, He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse from all unrighteousness." I don't know if Mrs. Collinsworth is forgiven. I don't know her. I don't know if she has asked for forgiveness. As I said before, that is between her and God. People are always just so conerned that others are going to get what they deserve, but when they are in trouble they hope to receive mercy. Also, she was sentenced to 4 years. She is only eligible to apply for release after 6 months.

Taxed Enough Already

 Tyge Tone was a questionable lawyer.  Can't imagine he is any better as a judge.


I'd believe God if He said anything but to read in a book written by God knows who, well, then, I have to question that.


in the video she reminds me of brisbane ...... the little boy in the "little rascals" who was in miss crabtree's class ..... and he was making all kinds of noise with a car horn (which he placed in the waste basket and would touch the wires to each other to make a loud "honk") and disturb the person who was in front of the class reciting ..... and many other shenanigans .... till miss crabtree caught him and gave him an ultimatum to read a poem that she gave him to study, or be expelled .... so brisbane said he wouldn't and left the school. he was hanging around the pond and thinking to himself ("learn that poem") that he couldn't go home, or he'd get in trouble .... so he went back to school and decided to recite the poem in front of class ....... "i feel off from the daffodil, and skinned my little shin" (which he was wimpering the whole time) .... to make a long story short ...... that's what this woman reminds me of ..... about as sincere as osama bin laden. (and to have the audacity to say she was going to pay it back ... just boggles the mind)!

Julie R.

Had this been the Catholic church now --- where most of the hypocrites at the Erie County courthouse sit --- the court would have had the thief's assets frozen immediately. They could care less about these other churches that are hurting financially.

Ned Mandingo

she should have told them fairy tales for one hour every week, then convinced them to give her the money.