Church theft case continued

MIFFLINTOWN – The theft case against a former volunteer bookkeeper for Saint Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church in Mifflintown has been continued.

Mary M. Zangrilli, 59, was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for criminal trial term list in the Juniata County Court of Common Pleas, however her defense attorney requested a continuance.

Defense attorney Steven Manbeck said his client “needs time to get her affairs in order.”

Zangrilli remains free on $250,000 unsecured bail, a trial date has not been set.

While she is tentatively scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 6, it remains unclear at this time whether there is a plea agreement in the making. She is charged with several felony counts of theft.

According to court documents, Zangrilli stole more than $248,000 from the church over a seven-year period beginning in 2005. Both a private investigator and the Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation, which led to the finding of more than 300 questionable checks made out to “cash” or to Zangrilli from the church’s bank account with the Juniata Valley Bank. The first check was dated Dec. 25, 2005.

Zangrilli was confronted by investigators and admitted to converting the funds for her own personal use, which included two cruises, police said. Zangrilli also wrote an open letter to the parish apologizing for her actions and asking for forgiveness. The letter was published in the parish newsletter earlier this year.

In addition, it was discovered Zangrilli had been taking cash directly from the church. Zangrilli stated she took cash every week from Dec. 26, 2005, until Nov. 20, 2012, and this included the church’s tithe fund.

Investigators also looked into 88 suspicious checks in the Saint Jude Capital Campaign account at First National Bank. Again, these checks were also made out to Zagrilli or “cash.”

Zangrilli told investigators she initially took the money to help with personal and medical expenses, because her husband had lost his job and she and her husband are both disabled. Zangrilli claimed she initially intended to replace the money, but as time went on and she had not been caught, taking the money became “an addiction,” according to court documents.

The investigation concluded Zangrilli had a minimum of $2,000 a month from a source other than her legitimate income from Social Security and a pension.