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3 People Accused Of Embezzling $580K From Danville Church

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DANVILLE (CBS SF) — Three people associated with St. Isidore Church in Danville have been charged with embezzlement for allegedly stealing $580,000 in church funds, according to Danville police and church officials.

Police Chief Steve Simpkins said the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office charged Kathleen Dake, 58, of Blackhawk, and Virgilio Lukban, 46, of Danville, with five counts of embezzlement each and Evelyn Peinado with three counts of embezzlement.

Dake was an office manager who began working at the church in 2002, and Luken was a facilities manager who began working at the church in 2003, according to Diocese of Oakland spokesman Mike Brown.

Peinado was a volunteer at the church, Brown said.

Simpkins said police began an investigation last August after they were first made aware of the missing funds.

The investigation revealed that Dake, Peinado and Lukban allegedly stole about $360,000 from the church through the fraudulent use of credit cards, Simpkins said.

Dake is also charged with stealing an additional $220,000 by allegedly using checks from St. Isidore’s for personal expenses, he said.

The Diocese of Oakland said in a prepared statement that in May 2010 the pastor of St. Isidore, the Rev. Gerry Moran, “noticed some irregularities in the parish financial office that troubled him.”

The parish financial committee began a preliminary investigation and became concerned that Dake, a parish employee, might be embezzling parish funds, the diocese said.

The committee also suspected that others might be involved and engaged an accounting firm to conduct a fraud examination, according to the diocese.

The parish notified the diocese’s financial office about the extent of the problem, and the diocese assisted the accounting firm with its investigation, the diocese said. The diocese also reported the suspected problem to Danville police.

The diocese said that during the course of the investigation it placed Dake and Lukban on administrative leave and that after further investigation it fired them. Brown said that Dake was fired last year and Lukban was fired in March.

The diocese said that during its investigation it determined that “the parish did not have sufficient internal control in place to detect and prevent such a high-level, sophisticated crime.”

The diocese said it has worked with St. Isidore’s finance committee and Moran “to rectify this situation” and that it believes that steps have been taken for preventing future problems.

Simpkins said Dake and Lukban were taken into custody by police today and taken to Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez. The bail for Dake is $433,000, and the bail for Lukban is $134,000, he said.

Simpkins said Peinado was arraigned in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Walnut Creek and was released on her own recognizance.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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