ROCKLAND — A local woman has been charged with stealing more than $25,000 from a Rockland church.

Sarah N. Crane, 41, of South Thomaston was arrested Monday by Rockland police and charged with felony theft, and misdemeanor forgery. She was taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland and made her initial appearance Wednesday in the Knox County court where Judge Paul Mathews set bail at $5,000 unsecured.

According to an affidavit filed in court by Rockland Police Detective Alex Gaylor, police were contacted on Jan. 13 by officials with the Rockland Congregational Church who suspected Crane had embezzled money from the church.

Crane had been employed by the church from May through December 2019 as office administrator. Crane had been fired on Dec. 2 for attendance and general incompetence, according to the affidavit.

In addition, Crane had issued herself multiple payroll checks in July as well as depositing her checks multiple times — by mobile deposit and then in person to the bank, according to the police report. The July issue was brought to her attention and she repaid the church.

After Crane was fired, according to the affidavit, the USAA Bank alerted the church about possible fraudulent activity.


Checks that were suppose to go to pay vendors had not gone to them, according to the financial review. And checks contributed to the church by members of the congregation also had not been put into the church’s account.

After police obtained a search warrant, the investigation found that more than 90 checks that were made payable to the church instead ended up in Crane’s USAA personal account.

There were also checks that were forged or altered, according to police.

Police went to a residence in Rockland where Crane had lived during the time she worked for the church and recovered 40 cash envelopes dated from June through September. Not all the donation envelopes were marked but some were and those totaled to nearly $1,000 in cash paid by members of the congregation to the church.

Gaylor attempted multiple times to speak with Crane but to no avail, according to the affidavit. The detective obtained an arrest warrant signed by the court on Feb. 12.

The affidavit concluded that more than $18,000 had been stolen through checks and more than $7,000 she is suspected of stealing by using a church’s Walmart credit card.

At her initial court appearance, she entered no plea to the two charges because one was a felony and the case has not gone before a grand jury. She did enter a not guilty plea separate charges of possession of cocaine and improper attachment of plates.

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