Couple plead to church thefts

HUDSON — A former church treasurer and her husband charged in St. Croix County Court with stealing nearly $190,000 in church funds over about 10 years both pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
Kara K. Amundson LaVenture, 42, and Michael J. LaVenture, 45, of rural Roberts are each charged with five felony counts of theft in a business setting. Kara LaVenture also faces a felony count of identity theft.

According to court records:
Officials at New Centerville United Methodist Church knew since May 2015 that Kara LaVenture admitted to embezzling funds from the church. No annual audits were conducted about the church’s finances. The church’s insurance company said it would not cover a loss claim unless a police report was filed, which a church official later filed.
Michael LaVenture estimated the amount stolen at about $39,392 and would be repaid, but auditors estimated Kara LaVenture, a volunteer treasurer from February 2006 through May 2015, had stolen $189,448 in checks and cash, and used the church’s information to open a credit card account for personal purchases.


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