Man allegedly takes $600K from church

March 5, 2013 at 2:34 PM

MOORHEAD, Minn., March 5 (UPI) -- Police in Minnesota said a church treasurer allegedly stole more than $600,000 to finance improvements at his family's home.

Robert D. Larson, 61, was charged in Clay County District Court with one felony count of theft and four felony counts of forgery for allegedly funneling money from the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to a charity, Rural Life Outreach, where he also kept the books. Larson would then forge the charity director's signature on a check written to himself, police said after conducting a forensic audit of Larson's finances.

If convicted, Larson faces 20 years in prison, the Fargo (N.D.) Forum said Monday.

Investigators searching Larson's home found receipts from area hardware stores and lumber yards -- one for $109,521.52 -- the same days as the forged checks. While interviewing Larson, police said the man admitted stealing the money "became a habit."

During the time Larson is suspected of stealing the money, the square footage on his home doubled with more construction in the works. Police said copies of the family's Christmas letter that included updates on the renovations served as a guide in tracking what work happened when.

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