|For Immediate Release
Case # 08HF0609
May 28, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
BOOKKEEPER CONVICTED OF STEALING $320,000 FROM CHURCH BY FORGING BOARD MEMBER SIGNATURE ON CHECKS TO SELF
NEWPORT BEACH – A bookkeeper for a Newport Beach church was convicted today of stealing approximately $320,000 from the church by forging checks made payable to herself and her husband. Cheryl Leann Granger, 45, formerly of Irvine, pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft, seven felony counts of forgery, and a sentencing enhancement for property damage over $150,000. She was sentenced to six years in state prison and ordered to pay $333,133 in restitution.
Between Sept. 30, 2002 and Feb. 6, 2006, Granger worked as an office manager and bookkeeper for Newport Harbor Lutheran Church in Newport Beach. During her employment, Granger stole approximately $320,000 from the church. Only authorized Board Members could access church bank accounts to write checks, and Granger is accused of forging the signatures of authorized Board Members on over 170 checks. The defendant made the checks payable to herself and to Caspian Scientific, a Nevada business she started with her husband. Granger also used the stolen money to pay off her credit cards.
Near the end of Granger’s employment, a new pastor joined the church and noticed some unpaid bills and missing money while reviewing the church finances. The church hired an accountant to review their accounts, and the accountant discovered that Granger had been stealing money.
At around the same time that the church discovered the discrepancies in their financial accounts, Granger abruptly quit her job and moved to New Hampshire. After charges were filed against the defendant, Granger waived extradition and was brought back to Orange County in April 2008 to face charges.
Deputy District Attorney Yvette Patko of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.