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Man Steals Fortune, Leaves Less Than $100

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The former treasurer of a New Hampshire church pleaded guilty to charges he stole $1.6 million from the church during a six-year period and left it with less than $100 in its accounts.
At a hearing Monday before U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro, Ross Perry, 43, acknowledged he embezzled the money from the First Church of Christ Scientist in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he served as treasurer from 1995 to 2002.

Perry pleaded guilty to one count each of federal mail fraud and federal wire fraud, six counts of federal income tax evasion and one count of failing to file employer tax returns on behalf of his company.

He faces up to 41 years in prison and up to $2.1 million in fines. His sentencing was scheduled for July in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire.

Prosecutors said Perry drew checks against the church's bank account that he paid to himself, liquidated securities to keep the church's accounts funded, and then gave the church's board false financial statements that overstated the value of its investments.

The scheme continued until there was less than $100 left in the church's accounts.

"I've personally never seen any theft from a religious organization of this magnitude," said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Morse, who prosecuted the case.