Not only has a Centreville man admitted stealing the donations given by parishioners to a Vienna church, say Fairfax County police, but he's reportedly done it at least 16 times.
Some of the details are contained in documents filed recently in Circuit Court. In them, Det. W.A. Kuemmel — with the Criminal Investigations Section of the McLean District Station — outlined the case against David William Yates, 26, of the Sully Station community.
Police arrested him, March 2, charging him with felony embezzlement. The next day, Kuemmel wrote an affidavit for a search warrant for Yates' garden apartment at 5104 Woodmere Drive, No. 103, in Centreville, as well as for his 1998 Ford Explorer.
Yates was a head usher during Sunday-evening services at McLean Bible Church, and police say an investigation revealed that, during the past year, he'd allegedly kept church contributions "in excess of several thousand dollars" for himself. No one noticed, at first. But as the amount of money donated each week began to dwindle, officials at the Leesburg Pike church started to get suspicious.
As part of his duties, Yates was to bring the offerings donated by the parishioners from the church to the accounting offices. But after realizing that donations in recent weeks were "markedly smaller," church official Courtney Woods asked county police officers working security at the church to "pay particular attention" to the offering.
In doing so, wrote Kuemmel, on Sunday, March 2, "Police Lt. R.J. Morvillo and police Officer B.C. Calfee counted Yates collecting 14 bags containing cash and check donations from the congregants. Upon entering the counting room, Yates produced only seven bags for counting."
CALFEE THEN FOLLOWED YATES from the counting room to the main floor of the church and, ultimately, to a storage locker at the back of the building. There, wrote the detective, the officer watched as Yates "busied himself arranging something inside the locker."
Calfee later returned to the locker and, wrote Kuemmel, "found several empty collection bags — one collection bag with less than $100 cash left in it — and a large amount of cash and checks inside a black nylon bag. When confronted with this, Yates [allegedly] admitted that the black bag was his and that he had stolen the funds from the church."
Police arrested him that evening and, although he was soon released from jail on bond, he has a May 5 court date. If convicted, he could receive as much as 10 years in prison.
Kuemmel wrote that he questioned Yates, the night of his arrest, and "determined that he has stolen funds — both cash and check[s] — from the church in a similar manner 15 times before, and that he usually returns the checks at a subsequent service." The detective added that "Yates admitted that [when he was arrested], there [were] in his residence a number of checks made payable to the McLean Bible Church which he has not yet been able to return to the church."
Kuemmel further noted the existence of "a checking account at Northwest Federal Credit Union, belonging to David W. Yates, [in]to which he has deposited proceeds from this embezzlement."
Police executed the search warrant, March 3, seizing: a checkbook and book of checks, a plastic bag containing McLean Bible Church checks, several SunTrust bank statements, a SunTrust check register and five SunTrust deposit receipts.