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INDIANAPOLIS — A 72-year-old Indianapolis woman was sentenced to two years in federal prison after she illegally transferred over half a million dollars from a Catholic parish’s business accounts to her own personal accounts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

Marie Carson pleaded guilty to wire fraud. In addition to her prison sentence, Carson was also sentenced to two years of probation following her release and ordered to pay $573,836.59 in restitution.

Court documents state that between 2008 to 2021, Carson transferred $573,836.59 to herself while working as a business manager for St. Matthew Parish, which oversees St. Matthew Catholic Church and School on E. 56th Street in Indianapolis. During this time, she was the only staff member in charge of managing the parish’s finances and was responsible for processing checks from parishioners and conducting financial transactions on behalf of the parish.

Authorities explained that Carson’s scheme was exposed in November of 2021 while she was on leave. Her temporary replacement noticed suspicious transfers from the parish’s gaming account to an external bank account. Further investigation led to the discovery of over $289,000 in transfers to multiple accounts, including a phantom account created in the church’s name.

The D.O.J. said Carson was able to maintain the scheme by making false entries into the database used by the parish to track payments. Carson and her husband spent a significant amount of the money on gambling and vacations.

Officials noted that the actual monetary loss is likely much higher, as Carson admitted to the church that she began this scheme in 2004.

“Her greed and desire for lavish vacations outweighed her interest in following the dictates of our criminal laws and the teachings of her church, ‘thou shalt not steal,'” said attorney Zachary A. Myers.