West Salem woman pleads guilty to defrauding church of $832,000

MADISON – Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced recently that Barbara L. Snyder, 59, West Salem, Wis., pleaded guilty Friday, August 25, 2017, to wire fraud and filing a false income tax return. The fraud and tax charges stem from Snyder’s embezzlement of over $832,000 from St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Onalaska, Wis.

[emember_protected] Snyder served as the secretary and accounting clerk for St. Patrick’s Church. Between 2006 and 2015, Snyder embezzled approximately $832,210 of church collections. Although she was entrusted to deposit all of the church collections, Snyder took a portion of the funds for herself. Snyder used these funds for gambling. To avoid detection, she discarded records of church collections, created false entries in accounting records, and lied to church auditors. During the same time-period, Snyder filed a false Individual Income Tax Return for 2015, in which she underreported her gross income by failing to report the embezzled proceeds.

Acting U.S. Attorney Anderson said, “This office is committed to prosecuting financial and tax crimes, especially in cases such as this which involve a long-term scheme and significant financial loss by the victim.”

“Barbara Snyder abused her position of trust within the church by stealing from the collection plate and spending part of it gambling,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Hubbard Burgess, St Paul Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigations.

U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson scheduled sentencing for November 9, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Snyder faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud charge and a maximum penalty of 3 years on the tax charge. The charges against her are the result of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigations, with the cooperation of St. Patrick’s Church and the Diocese of La Crosse. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio M. Trillo. [/emember_protected]