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A church employee who stole more than $450,000 from the parishioners has just been sentenced to over five years in prison.

Lisa Dawn Stabeno worked as an account manager for Church on the Rock in Texas between 2013 and 2018 as part of their “Dream Center.” Her job was to help “underserved individuals” in her city.

Instead, she helped herself. An indictment against her in December charged her with using church funds to finance her own expensive lifestyle.

The indictment said she used church money, “to supplement her business income; pay for personal expenses, including restaurant meals and spa services; and pay for vacations to various destinations, including Disney Land, LegoLand, Six Flags over Texas, and Las Vegas.”

She also used church funds to cover personal medical costs, rent, a car loan, her family’s credit card debt, and to pay employees who worked at her bakery.

All told, she took more than $450,000 of the church’s money, meant to help poor people, and used it as her personal slush fund. She accepted a plea deal back in May but still faced up to 30 years in prison on top of a fine of up to $1 million.

Now she’s finally been sentenced:

A former church bookkeeper has been sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison for using church funds for personal enrichment, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

Lisa Dawn Stabeno, 52, pleaded guilty in May to two counts of bank fraud. She was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who lamented her “brazen thefts” and ordered her to pay $450,000 in restitution.

As I said before, it’s hard to make me feel sympathy for a megachurch, but this sort of thing will do it. It’s also a reminder of how little oversight often exists in these organizations. Why weren’t more people watching the spending? Who had access to the bank account? How did no one notice this much money not flowing in the intended direction? Did they trust her because of their faith (or hers)?

At least she received a secular punishment.

(Large portions of this article were published earlier. Thanks to Mike for the link)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.