How does one stead nearly 1 million dollars from a church? Supposedly Karen Raborn did just that at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs. Was there any kind of supervision going on? If Raborn stole money through her, whoever the church pastors were at the time were grossly negligent in their duties. It wouldn't be the first such instance here in Florida. The diocese of Palm Beach County had its own scandal last year.
Disclosure- My wife works for the Diocese of Palm Beach
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Longtime church employee Karen Raborn was charged Wednesday with stealing more than $320,000 in recent years from her Catholic parish, St. Mary Magdalen in Altamonte Springs.
But investigators suspect that's only one-third the amount she stole, part of it from the weekly collection plate.
In paperwork forwarded to the Seminole County State Attorney's Office, Altamonte Springs police alleged that "approximately $929,000" had disappeared from the church on Maitland Avenue.
Assistant State Attorney Beth Rutberg said the state had stopped counting at $320,000 because of the expense of obtaining old bank records.
Raborn, 50, who lives about a mile from the church, was charged with one count of organized fraud and one count of grand theft involving more than $100,000. If convicted, she faces up to 60 years in prison.
She was booked into the Seminole County Jail on Wednesday and was being held on $9,800 bail.
Police records indicate she grew desperate in July about being accused of theft.
She sought out a longtime friend and neighbor, an Altamonte Springs police officer, on July 15 and told him she had stolen $18,000 from the church's 2006 fall community festival.
She felt awful, she told the officer. Raborn also confessed to a priest at another church, according to a police report.
By then, the church had hired an outside expert and tried to total up its losses.
At Sunday services on July 22, the Rev. Charlie Mitchell read to the congregation a letter from Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. It said the church had lost an estimated $675,000 to an embezzler.
The next day, Raborn tried to kill herself at a Winter Park cemetery, according to a police report. She was found unconscious, slumped over the wheel of her car, a beige Lincoln Town Car, and was taken to a hospital.
For weeks, church and diocese officials have declined to answer questions about Raborn and the missing money. The St. Mary Magdalen Sunday bulletin indicates that large sums of money are collected in its weekly offerings -- most recently, $43,194 on Oct. 13-14 and $35,867.91 on Oct. 20-21.
On Wednesday, diocese spokeswoman Carol Brinati would only say, via e-mail, that Raborn had worked at the church from 1995 to 2006.