Man sentenced to prison after embezzling from Grand Rapids church

GRAND RAPIDS, me. – A Grand Rapids man accused of stealing more than $ 812,000 from his church has been sentenced to five to 15 years in prison, Kent County Attorney Chris Becker told Fox 17 on Friday.

56-year-old Christian Bileth is said to have stolen the money from the United Church of Christ in St. John between March 2014 and the end of 2019. This comes from an incident report from the Grand Rapids Police Department.

It happened while he was serving as the Church’s treasurer and responsible for its investment accounts.

He was also asked to pay $ 819,245 in restitution.

Although Bileth’s conviction is higher than the sentence normally imposed, Kent County Circuit judge Mark Trusock took into account the amount of money and the fact that the victim was a church.

“It was unique in that he had Church connections because he was a member and he was seen as an elder and a leader,” GRPD St. John Wittowski previously told Fox 17.

The money could have a huge impact on the long-term viability of the church.

If the missing funds cannot be reclaimed, this affects the employees and the entire community.

The United Church of Christ in St. John has 119 members.

According to his lawyer, Bileth used the money to pay medical bills, but he understands that this was not an excuse for his actions.

READ MORE: Man charged with crime of stealing $ 800,000 from Grand Rapids Church

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