BENTON, Ill. – A Freeburg, Illinois, woman who worked as a business manager for a pair of Belleville-area churches was sentenced in federal court on Thursday for embezzlement.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois said Michelle Miller, 45, pleaded guilty in November 2022 to one count of obtaining money owned by a financial institution.

According to her plea agreement, Miller admitted stealing nearly $154,000 in funds from St. Teresa and St. Luke parishes. She was the business manager for both churches from September 2017 to February 2020.

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During that time, Miller wrote checks from the schools’ accounts to herself, made excess salary payments to herself, and used school checks for petty cash and pocketed the money.

Miller told the court she would forge signatures and manipulate the parish’s bookkeeping software to conceal her fraud.

A U.S. District Court judge sentenced Miller to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release. She was also ordered her to pay $153,940.38 in restitution.