A bookkeeper who spent years stealing from a Pompano Beach church, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from donations and bank accounts, has been arrested on a grand theft charge, authorities said.
Abraham Velazquez-Velazquez, 36, was arrested Thursday on the first-degree grand theft charge, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest report.
The report alleges that from 2014 to 2019, when Velazquez-Velazquez worked as treasurer and bookeeper for Centro Cristiano Restauracion Divina church on West Copans Road, he stole at least $391,889.45 of the church's funds.
Velazquez-Velazquez had been the sole person in charge of depositing the church's weekly offerings, paying its bills and completing financial statements during the time that the money was stolen, the report said.
According to the report, Velazquez-Velazquez had a debit card linked to the church's Wells Fargo bank account, which he allegedly used to steal money through unauthorized purchases and cash withdrawals. He was also collecting cash from church donations and either not depositing it or depositing only portions of it, the report said.
At one point, he even purchased a puppy with the stolen funds, the report said.
The theft came to light in 2019 when the church's pastor continued to receive emails from the landlord that the church's rent was late, the report said.
When the pastor asked Velazquez-Velazquez about the late rent payments, he said he was busy and under a lot of stress but would "take care of it," the report said.
That's when the pastor checked the church's bank accounts and found them "almost completely depleted," the report said.
The accounts should have had about $247,000 but instead had about 1,200, the report said.
The pastor started reviewing the accounts going back to 2014, when Velazquez-Velazquez became the bookkeeper, and discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars were missing, the report said.
Velazquez-Velazquez was booked into the Broward jail, where he remained held on a $7,500 bond Friday, records showed. attorney information wasn't available.
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