A Fayette County grand jury has indicted a former employee of Southern Hills United Methodist Church on charges that she stole more than $115,000 from the church and used it to pay for shopping sprees and weight loss surgery.
Marcie Susan King, 39, is charged with four counts of theft by unlawful taking of more than $300 and four counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property more than $300. The charges are felonies.
Sherelle Roberts, spokeswoman for the Lexington Division of Police, said King was in charge of finances for the church's day care program.
Southern Hills has also filed a lawsuit against King for allegedly converting "to her own use, or the use of others" money that belonged to the church. The lawsuit, which was filed last month in Fayette Circuit Court, seeks an undetermined amount of money as restitution.
According to court documents, King allegedly stole $115,083 from the church over a period of 21/2 years, between November 2006 and June 2009. She resigned from the position on June 30, 2009, the lawsuit said.
According to police reports, King had access to multiple bank accounts for the church.
As director of the day care program, King was issued a debit card to pay for a variety of church activities, including parties and trips, according to police records.
Roberts said King diverted extra tuition money into the activities account and used the debit card to pay for bariatric weight loss surgery as well as clothes, food and other personal items.
King also had access to a U.S. Bank card linked to an account that contained tuition assistance funds granted through the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which she also used for personal purchases, according to police reports.
King did not return messages seeking comment.
Her attorney, Derek G. Gordon of Lexington, said it was too early to tell how the case would proceed.
"I don't know what her involvement is at this point," he said. "Certainly we intend to do what we need to do."
King turned herself in to police on May 11. She was released the same day on a $500 bond, according to court records.
Gordon said there is some dispute about the amount that was allegedly taken. According to police documents, during the period in question, business purchases also were made on the cards.
Bill McKinney, business director at the church, said he was aware of the indictment but declined to comment. Southern Hills' lawyer, Jay E. Ingle, said he could not comment on pending litigation.
McKinney said the day care program serves around 145 kids, aged 6 weeks to pre-kindergarten. Southern Hills also offers an after-school program for elementary school students. McKinney said some tuition money is paid by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services through the Child Care Assistance Program.
According to court records, King and her husband, Marvin King, are named in a foreclosure lawsuit that was filed in January, seeking a principal of $151,877 plus late fees and court costs. That case is pending.
King is scheduled to be arraigned in circuit court on July 23.