Bookkeeper accused of stealing $17K from Lake Worth church

Jill Ellis_web.jpg
Jill Ellis, 48, is accused of stealing more than $17,000 from the First Congregational Church in Lake Worth. (PBSO)

A church bookkeeper is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a church in Lake Worth.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office arrested 48-year-old Jill Ellis on grand theft charges.

Investigators say she used the debit card for the First Congregational Church to make 45 unauthorized withdrawals, totaling $17,740.

The church pastor started looking into the matter last year after getting notifications from vendors about bills not being paid.

Church leaders held a meeting in December 2016, where they confronted Ellis about the missing money. She admitted to using the ATM card to withdraw money. Ellis, according to the report, begged the church not to report the theft to the board. She said she did it to make ends meet and promised to repay the money.

Ellis provided a written statement to the church and resigned.

The Sheriff's Office picked up the investigation a month later. The pastor told investigators that Ellis, when asked about the unpaid bills in the spring of 2016, gave excuses as the checks were lost in the mail or sent to the wrong address, according to the arrest report.

Deputies contacted Ellis at her new job in August. She admitted to withdrawing the money from the church's bank account without permission.

Ellis is out on bond.