A Christ the King finance official who embezzled more than a quarter of a million dollars from the church was sentenced today to more than four years in federal prison, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Chad E. Meacham.
Former employee of Christ the King Cathedral Church in Lubbock, Nathan Allen Webb, 43, pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud. He was sentenced Thursday to 51 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who ordered him to pay $261,440.20 in restitution.
According to the plea documents, Mr. Webb – the only church employee with access to the church’s PayPal and Venmo accounts – admitted to transferring $261,440.20 in donations from parishioners from the church to himself. using these platforms. In 18 months, he made more than 230 unauthorized transfers. He then altered church bank statements to show PayPal and Venmo debits as credits, thereby hiding his criminal activity from the church’s finance committee and the diocese.
On February 23, 2021, Mr. Webb traveled to Colombia, South America, taking a church laptop with him. While in Colombia on March 2, he transferred $2,914.07 from the Church’s PayPal account to his personal PayPal account and then to his bank account. The church discovered his fraud and confronted him the next day.
During his sentencing hearing, prosecutors told the judge that following the confrontation, Mr. Webb remained in Colombia, ultimately overstaying his visa. The Colombian government ordered him to leave the country, so he bought a ticket from Cartagena to Fort Lauderdale, where he knew FBI agents would be waiting for him. Instead of boarding the flight, however, he traveled more than 500 miles inland to Pereira. Colombian officials located and detained him; they continued to detain him on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice until the US government negotiated his release and returned him to Texas.
Given Mr. Webb’s calculated plot to evade law enforcement, the judge agreed that an enhancement to obstruction of justice was appropriate.
The Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation with substantial assistance from FBI agents stationed in Colombia. Assistant United States Attorney Ann Howey prosecuted the case.