116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A former records keeper of a Mason City church who stole over $270,000 to pay off credit card and student loan debt was sentenced last week to more than two years in federal prison.
Melissa Noland, 47, of Polk City, told investigators in September 2019 that she had been taking money from the First United Methodist Church since a few months after she started working there in 2014, according to a plea agreement. She mostly used the stolen funds to pay off credit cards, including making car payments through her credit cards, but also paid off student loan debt and child support, the plea stated.
Noland told investigators she wasn’t sure how much money she took, but she wouldn’t be “shocked” if it was between $275,000 and $300,000, the plea stated.
The plea stated that Noland stole the funds from church’s general and memorial accounts. During the course of the scheme, she stole and misappropriated at least $274, 222.
Noland wrote 32 checks to herself from the memorial account totaling $51,264 between March 2015 and December 2017, according to the plea. Between March 2015 and November 2018, Noland made hundreds of payments from the memorial account to pay off her six credit card bills. Also during that time period, she transferred $81,139 from the memorial account to pay off her personal credit card debt.
She also made hundreds of payments, using ATM transfers from the general account to pay off her six credit card bills, the plea stated. She transferred $50,602 from the general account to pay off her personal debt.
Noland also used $1,312 of the stolen funds to pay for her monthly internet service, according to the plea agreement.
Between March 2015 and December 2018, she also gave herself extra pay totaling $48,225 and disbursed another $5,468 to herself, which she wasn’t entitled to, the plea stated. During this period, she also wrote herself $36,210 in checks from the general account.
Once the church discovered her thefts, her employment was terminated in January 2019.
She pleaded in May to one count of wire fraud.
In sentencing her to the 27-month prison term, U.S. District Chief Judge Leonard Strand ordered Noland to pay $274,222 in restitution to the church and to serve three years of supervised release following her prison time.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Morfitt and investigated by the FBI and Mason City Police Department.
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