Commonwealth v. Michele Moeser Roberts; Embezzlement of $287,678 from Church Draws Four Years to Serve

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Michele Moeser Roberts, 62 years old, who previously resided in the 1000 block of Collection Creek, Virginia Beach, Virginia, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge Les L. Lilley for felony Embezzlement.  Judge Lilley sentenced Roberts to a total of twenty (20) years in the Department of Corrections.  Sixteen (16) years were suspended, leaving her four (4) years to serve.

 

The Virginia Sentencing Guidelines in this case recommended Roberts be sentenced to probation with no incarceration.  Judge Lilley’s sentence significantly exceeded those guidelines.  “As Commonwealth’s Attorney and as a member of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission, I agree with Judge Lilley’s decision to incarcerate Roberts for her criminal actions,” Bryant said. The Court termed the amount taken as “staggering.”

 

Roberts pleaded guilty on December 21, 2010.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that between October 2004 and March 2010, Roberts embezzled $287,678 from Kings Grant Baptist Church in the City of Virginia Beach.  Roberts, who was employed as the financial administrator at the church for over 12 years, made checks payable to herself and provided false financial statements to the church treasurer.

 

“It was a complicated scheme that went undetected in annual audits because of its sophistication,” Bryant said.  At one point, Roberts urged the church pastor to impose a 15% budget reduction because church offerings seemed to be down.  The thefts were discovered after Roberts voluntarily left her position and moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Roberts claimed at sentencing that she used the money to assist various family members who were in need.  Reverend Stanley “Skip” Wallace testified that Roberts never asked the church to help members of her family.  The church treasurer, a tax attorney and accountant, testified that Roberts was given the biggest raises of any of the church staff over the years.  Roberts also was receiving a monthly pension from the U.S. Navy while stealing from the church.

 

Roberts was ordered to pay full restitution at the rate of $600.00 per month, which will take 40 years.

 

The case was prosecuted by Associate Commonwealth’s Attorney Wendy Alexander.  Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.​

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