Lutheran Synod Worker Admits to Stealing $300K in Mpls.
Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office
A former Lutheran Synod employee has admitted to embezzling more than $300,000 from the church to pay for personal and family expenses.
Raenay Hendrickson pleaded guilty Thursday, Sept. 5, in Hennepin County District Court to five felony counts of theft by swindle. Hendrickson was employed by the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America from 1996 until 2012.
Hendrickson, 51, of Brooklyn Park, admitted in court that she began stealing the money around 2002 while working as the executive assistant to the bishop, synod administrator and bookkeeper, according to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.
The role gave her full access to the church's checking account, the attorney's office stated. Hendrickson said she falsified records to cover up her thefts - which totaled nearly $318,000. In court, she said the synod's internal investigation was accurate. The investigation revealed that Hendrickson wrote checks to her creditors and other third parties for her own benefit.
"I took extra paychecks, paid medical bills for my family, my daughter's expenses," Hendrickson testified, according to the county attorney's office. "I was thinking at some point I would be paying it back, but I knew it was wrong and I had no approval to do that."
Hendrickson is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 4. She's expected to receive a 17-month prison sentence. Two similar counts will be dismissed in the plea agreement.
Hendrickson also will likely be ordered to pay restitution.