Bishop jailed for stealing church funds

17/01/2014

A 77-year-old bishop has today been sentenced to two years at Birmingham Crown Court after he had admitted to stealing over £186,000 from his local church.

Gerald Edmund was the bishop of the Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ, which has branches throughout the UK, USA and Jamaica. It is also a registered charity as well as having a business arm to it which is based at the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich, where Edmund was the line manager as well as one of the trustees and where the fraud was committed.

Between July 2010 and February 2011he stole £186,622.75 from the church.

During an audit, one of the fellow trustees discovered the theft and alerted this to the police. Bishop Edmund was then arrested and later charged with two counts of theft and one count of fraud.

Sarah Hammond, Acting Sector Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Bishop Gerald Edmund was in a position of immense trust which he abused due to greed.

"He became a trustee and manager of the church's convention centre and it was during this period that he began to transfer funds from the centre's business account into his own personal account. He also stole the petty cash which was generated from events held at the centre and he made cheques out to himself rather than pay for utility bills which they were meant for.

"Over a seven month period he stole and squandered away £186,622.75, money which the church could have been spent on worthwhile causes.

"His theft only came to light when an audit was carried out by a fellow trustee and anomalies were discovered in the church's bank account. The police were informed and the defendant was arrested and charged with theft and fraud to which he pleaded guilty to."