Evansville –United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced Thursday that an Evansville woman who worked as the cafeteria manager at St Benedict Cathedral School, was indicted on five counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. Mary Merrill, 49, Evansville, was arrested today and will appear before a federal magistrate judge for her initial appearance.
“Faith-based institutions are built around trust and honesty; Ms. Merrill betrayed both values,” said Minkler. “The Diocese of Evansville, as well as parishioners and students of St. Benedict, deserve better from their staff.”
Merrill served as the cafeteria manager since 2007, and controlled the cafeteria budget, managed accounts payable, purchased food and other supplies from vendors as well as supervised employees and volunteers. She controlled an account at an Evansville bank named the “St Benedict School Cafeteria” and was the only person with signatory power.
From February 2011, until March 2015, Merrill is alleged to have embezzled over $104,000 from the cafeteria account by making fraudulent claims for reimbursement, issuing unauthorized checks to herself and credit card companies, and creating false check registries with vendor names to conceal her personal expenditures. During this time period the school received federal funds as a participant in the Federal School Lunch Program.
This case was investigated by the Evansville Police Department, United States Secret Service, and the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office.
Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin said, “It is unfortunate that someone would take advantage of a place of worship, especially one that is charged with educating young people in our community.”
According to Assistant United States Attorney Kyle M. Sawa, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Merrill could face up to 10 years imprisonment on each count if convicted.
An indictment is merely a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.
No future court date has been set.