YUBA CITY (CBS13) — A former Yuba City church administrator was arrested in Oklahoma and was charged last week with 22 counts of wire fraud and two counts of identity theft related to a scheme to embezzle church funds, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Chanell Easton, 36, was indicted last Thursday in Sacramento federal court. She faces up to 20 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud, in addition to two years for each count of identity theft, if convicted.READ MORE: California Lawmakers To Vote On $307.9 Billion Spending Plan
Between June 2013 and February 2018, Easton is accused of stealing more than $360,000 from the church, including from the church’s youth ministry and food pantry, that she worked at during that time, according to U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Department of Justice Eastern District of California.READ MORE: Rices Fire Updates: Evacuation Advisories Upgraded To Warnings In Yuba County
Easton opened five business credit card accounts under the church’s name and used them, in addition to a credit card used by a youth pastor, for personal expenses including visits to a hair salon, retail shops, online retailers, concert tickets and vacation rentals, prosecutors said. She then allegedly paid off the balances with the church’s money.MORE NEWS: How Sacramento County Is Bucking The National Trend Of Murder Cases Going Unsolved
She is also accused of transferring the church’s money directly into her personal account to pay bills and purchase new phones. Prosecutors allege Easton forged the signatures of the church’s treasurer and a head volunteer to write checks to herself and to others.