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Graettinger Church To Be Awarded $2.4 Million

February 13, 2018
Emmetsburg News

Last week, Judge Nancy Whittenburg imposed a $2.4 million judgment on Andy Matheason of Graettinger. Matheason allegedly embezzled over $400,000 from the Bethel Lutheran Church in Graettinger over a 14-year period. No criminal charges have been filed at this time.

In 2003, Matheason was appointed by Bethel Lutheran Church in Graettinger to serve as the Treasurer for the church; court records indicate that Matheason declared bankruptcy that same year. As Treasurer of Bethel Lutheran Church, Matheason had access to the church's checkbook and finances. Much of the income earned by the church was from donations made by members of the church. Bethel Lutheran Church permitted Matheason to pay himself $150 a month for his work as Treasurer.

Over the 14-year period, Matheason is alleged to have written over $130,000 in checks to himself and withdrew thousands of dollars from the ATM using the church's debit card. According to the Des Moines Register, he is also accused of using $25,000 to make payments on personal credit cards; transferring $30,448 from the church's bank account into a personal account; and using hundreds of dollars of church donations to pay for personal expenses at Sears, Walmart, and other retailers.

Matheason is also believed to have been transferring money from the church into a bank account under the name of DAC Enterprise. The church alleges that this money was then used for purchases from Amazon.

It wasn't until July of 2017 that the church was aware of the activity when alerted by an employee at their bank, Bank Plus. The church council asked for a meeting with Matheason. At this time, according to court records, Matheason denied the accusations. At a later, private meeting with the president of the church council, Mike Springer, Matheason confessed to stealing money from the church.

Matheason, a former employee of Wallace Water Conditioning was let go after the community became aware of the rumors.

Bethel Lutheran Church decided to pursue a civil lawsuit against Matheason seeking repayment of the money that was allegedly taken from the church. A judgment was made on Jan. 30 by District Court Judge Nancy Whittenburg. Judge Whittenburg Bethel Lutheran Church a total judgement for $2,405,146: $481,029 in actual damages and $1,924,117 in punitive damages.



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