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Suspect arrested for embezzling almost $30K from church

Bryan police say the suspect overpaid herself and forged signatures on checks
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:35 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Bryan police have arrested a suspect who is accused of embezzling funds from First Presbyterian Church (FPC).

Donya Ragle, 43, of Bryan stole almost $30,000 over the span of about two years, according to Bryan police. The investigation concluded that Ragle was overpaying herself and forging signatures on checks.

Church leaders say in late December 2020 the interim church treasurer and interim bookkeeper discovered possible unauthorized disbursements by someone who had access to the church’s income and expense processes. The church then provided bookkeeping and bank records to BPD.

“Since this discovery and research into the extent and means of unauthorized financial withdrawals, church officials have taken steps to ensure the present and future integrity of current church financial holdings and interactions,” said a statement from FPC.

Ragle is accused of forging 28 checks from two accounts at First Presbyterian Church from July to December of 2020, according to court documents.

“I mean it’s certainly close to home. It’s not something that can ever be condoned,” said Chris Whatley of Bryan. He has lived near the church for about seven years. He and other residents said they were disappointed to hear about the allegations and arrest.

“I guess you need multiple people in charge of books or whatever, you just hate to see it. I mean it really shouldn’t happen you know, especially to a place like this,” he said.

We also talked to Reverend Ted Foote with the church by phone. He and church leadership declined to speak on camera but sent the following statement.

“In late December 2020, First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Bryan’s interim church treasurer and interim bookkeeper discovered possible unauthorized disbursements by someone who had access to the church’s income and expense processes. FPC then provided bookkeeping and bank records to the Bryan Police Department (BPD) and to the church’s insurance carrier’s financial loss investigator.

Since this discovery and research into the extent and means of unauthorized financial withdrawals, church officials have taken steps to ensure the present and future integrity of current church financial holdings and interactions.

Having been asked by BPD to limit knowledge of their investigation only to those with a need to know, the church’s Board of Elders and staff agreed to maintain confidentiality so that BPD’s investigation could proceed unhindered. FPC will, in days ahead, only release information related to this set of events as advised by local law enforcement officials. We are engaged with prayers of support, however, for all whose lives are affected by these developments.

Police say Ragle told them she’d had some medical issues and asked for help. They say she admitted to using a signature stamp without authorization.

“This should be the last place we would ever expect something like this to happen,” said Whatley.

Ragle has been charged with theft of property $2,500- $30,000.

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