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Charges Could Be Filed Soon In Church Embezzlement Case

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Pastor Fred Hessler speaks with CBS4's Brooke Rogers. (credit: CBS)

Pastor Fred Hessler speaks with CBS4’s Brooke Rogers. (credit: CBS)

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – A Lutheran church in Douglas County that police say was victimized by a former employee is trying to make sure that woman doesn’t continue her harmful ways.

Faith Lutheran Church is located on North Ridge Road in Castle Rock. They fired Melissa Miles, who had been directing their preschool, after a year of employment. In September they reported the theft case to Castle Rock police.

“We found suspicion evidence that Melissa had misused a school credit card for what appeared to be personal expenses,” said church spokesperson Fred Hessler.

Castle Rock police are recommending that the district attorney file felony embezzlement charges against Miles, who allegedly stole $27,000 from the preschool. About 100 children attend the school.

Hessler told CBS4 a fellow school employee first reported Miles’ behavior.

“I was very angry that someone in a position of trust would misuse that trust or take advantage of that trust to defraud a preschool,” he said.

A CBS4 crew went to Miles’ home in Castle Rock and Bradley Miles, her husband, spoke briefly for her. In the process of declining an on-camera interview invitation, he defended his wife saying, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of,” and that the allegations are “absolutely not” true.

CBS4 checked into Miles’ background and found that from 2005 to 2009 she owned four different day care centers. There were numerous state violations at those centers during those years, including safety problems.

The Department of Human Services revoked the license for two of those centers.

Pastor Ebassa Berhanu admitted the church did a poor job with their hiring process when considering Miles as an applicant and have learned from their experience. He said the case has challenged some of the fundamentals of faith.

“On one hand we’re commanded to forgive, but on the other hand we have an obligation to protect innocent people,” Hessler said.

An attorney for Miles offered the church a settlement of $8,000 but Hessler says the church declined because they want to make sure they are Miles’ last victim.

The district attorney’s office may file charges against Miles next week.

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