MILWAUKEE, WI (WTAQ) - A former Catholic Church secretary from suburban Milwaukee was sent to prison for three years today, for embezzling $400,000. 57-year-old Darlene Vodvarka apologized for stealing the money from Saint Matthew Catholic Church in Oak Creek – and she was ordered to pay it back. Circuit Judge David Hansher called the crimes a character flaw that was motivated by greed. Vodvarka was first accused of taking $217,000 by the use of subscription gift cards that merchants donated for Saint Matthew’s School. A related civil lawsuit then uncovered $183,000 in stolen cash which Vodvarka covered up by falsifying church ledgers. Vodvarka said the thefts were almost like an “addiction” to her since she started them in 2004. She told the judge she must have spent the money on her family because quote, “I don’t gamble. I don’t have new cars. I don’t take trips.” Vodvarka claimed she gave some of the stolen funds to charities – but Judge Hansher said he didn’t believe that. Lawyers said an insurance company has reimbursed the church about $250,000 of the losses.
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