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Forum News Service, Published June 20 2013

Man charged with stealing more than $60,000 from central Minnesota church

WILLMAR, Minn. - The treasurer for a central Minnesota church is accused of stealing more than $60,000 from the congregation.

Paul Alton Hanson, 50, of Willmar, made his first court appearance Wednesday on three felony charges of theft by swindle from Tripolis Lutheran Church of rural Kandiyohi County.

According to the complaint filed in Kandiyohi County District Court, Hanson allegedly wrote 129 checks to himself between July 2011 and January 2013 for $61,623.83 and disguised his actions by writing apparently legitimate church expenses in the church’s financial ledgers.

According to the complaint, the investigation began when church officials met with a detective from the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office in February. The officials reported that Hanson had been employed as the church treasurer and that they had received information from their bank that Hanson had been cashing numerous checks written to himself.

The officials told the detective that Hanson had admitted he had written the checks to himself for personal gain, had apologized profusely and requested that the matter be taken care of within the church.