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Archive for Friday, June 30, 2006

Nun accused of stealing $300,000 turns herself in

June 30, 2006

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— A nun accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the Omaha Archdiocese turned herself in.

Sister Barbara Markey, 71, turned herself in to Omaha Police on Wednesday, after a warrant was issued for her arrest on June 22. She was released on her own recognizance later that day.

The Omaha nun was charged with theft by deception, a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Markey's attorney, John Stevens Berry Sr., said the allegations are a financial dispute that does not involve any breaking of laws.

Markey was fired in January from her position of director of the archdiocese's family life office after financial irregularities were discovered.

According to the warrant, an audit revealed that Markey spent $307,545 for her own use or without documentation. The audit showed that of the money, $81,149 went to cash and cash advances; $67,656 was spent on casinos; $33,488 was spent on gifts for family and friends; and $24,775 was spent for airfare, mileage and transportation, according to the audit.

The audit also showed that Markey opened a Great Western bank account in June 1999 and drew $76,628 from that account to make payments on her personal credit card.

Markey co-wrote one of the Catholic Church's most widely used marriage preparation programs, FOCCUS, which stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study. The marriage preparation program is used by most U.S. dioceses.

According to the FOCCUS Web site, 400,000 to 500,000 couples in 14 countries use the tool each year.

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