Embezzling Charges
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The former director of a Blair County, church sponsored preschool is facing charges for embezzling over $100,000 from the daycare, according to a police criminal complaint. Police say Kathleen Koller, 68, of Altoona was arraigned on Wednesday following an investigation by Altoona police into the financial discrepancies of Christ Community United Methodist Church's Stay and Play Preschool, which had locations in Altoona and Hollidaysburg. Koller worked for the church for over 30 years and handled all of the preschool's finances, including deposits, and even had a debit card linked to the church's account(s), according to the complaint. Officials say the church conducted a financial audit in 2018 and discovered discrepancies, prompting an outside accounting firm to investigate. Police say the investigation uncovered that a total of $126,838 was embezzled by Koller over a 10-year period, with approximately $36,000 in debit card transactions and the transfer of more than $25,000 into two of Koller's personal accounts during that time. The investigation also discovered the use of four unauthorized bank accounts that were in the preschool's name, which Koller used to make payments to an insurance company not connected to the church, as well as personal loan payments and a $959 payment to her husband. Police added that Koller admitted to making two out of-state ATM withdrawals, totaling over $1,000, which she said was a mistake but never paid back. Authorities also added that they interviewed a former employee of the preschool after her name was found on one of Koller's accounts. The complaint states that the former employee, who left in 2011, said that she was aware of the account but believed that it was closed. She also reviewed some of the transactions from the accounts and told police that most of them did not seem legitimate. A sample of those transactions included a jewelry store, two salons that Koller frequently used, a pharmacy and a pair of home improvement stores. according to police. Police say Koller was contacted about the investigation in October of 2019, but she never came in for an interview. Court documents show that Koller faces 13 felony charges and was released on unsecured bail.