Ex-Paso Robles church staffer charged with theft

September 14, 2019

A former office manager for the Life Community Church in Paso Robles is due in court next week on charges she embezzled more than $200,000 from the church.

The SLO County District Attorney’s Office filed three felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement against 51-year-old Claire Easton. Easton allegedly stole the money while she served as the church’s primary bookkeeper from Jan. 2012 to April 2018. She then falsified records to conceal her theft.

In 2018, another employee discovered the alleged theft after she took over the accounting work while Easton was off on sick leave. When confronted by church staff, Easton admitted to taking the money.

In January, Easton plead not guilty to all charges. She is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 18.


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adustum

What form of Christianity does this type of church teach? Have to wonder how they view the Bible, God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus.


NorthCountyLady

Just to give some further information, Life Community Church is a part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), the same denomination that is currently trying to ‘steal’, and close the Hillside Church of Grover Beach. Life Community Church was formerly Templeton Community Church (TCC). TCC’s founding pastor John Kaiser built TCC from 5 people to a thriving congregation of 200 +. The church was hit hard financially by the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008-2012 and CMA saw that as an opportunity to do a ‘hostile takover’. (Sound familiar?) Claire Eastin was the church secretary for TCC for several years and one of the principle people (along with the board of elders) who helped the CMA steal TCC from Pastor John and the many congregants who called it their home, then turn it into Life Community Church. There is no doubt in my mind that she was embezzling from the congregants of Templeton Community Church long before the hostile takeover and change to Life Community Church. Investigators really need to look into how long the embezzlement had been going on and if she had started her stealing from Templeton Community Church. Life Community Church found out about the embezzlement in April 2018 and tried and succeeded up till now to keep the matter hush-hush and out of the press and had in fact decided not to press charges against Ms. Eastin. They had only reported it as a loss to the IRS. ( It would make the church look bad.) Ms. Eastin shows no true remorse for her embezzlement and only justifies it with “I’m going to counseling to get help for my problem.” She deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As for the Christian and Missionary Alliance leadership and those who participate in making their belief in Christ the justification for participating in hurtful and deceitful actions for financial reasons, I hope you come to truly know that Christ was never ever, ever about finances and monetary gain and always about love, compassion and justice.


panflash

NCL- thanks for that background fill-in. Stories like this usually have a lot of “the rest of the story” information that leave people wondering about all the missing links and gaps in the coverage.


Also, your last sentence pretty much says it all. It reminded me of the story about how Jesus treated the money-changers in the temple.


adustum

“As for the Christian and Missionary Alliance leadership and those who participate in making their belief in Christ the justification for participating in hurtful and deceitful actions for financial reasons, I hope you come to truly know that Christ was never ever, ever about finances and monetary gain and always about love, compassion and justice.”


Excellent point. Thank you.


Haveaniceday

North county lady,

Why did the pastor give an interview regarding Claire Eastin and her lying thievery to the Tribune if the church didn’t want any one to know? If there is no doubt in your mind she was embezzling at her previous job, why didn’t you come forward?


NorthCountyLady

The Christian and Missionary Alliance did a hostile takeover of Templeton Community Church in July of 2011. Shortly thereafter they changed the name to Life Community Church. Life Community Church reports as per the interview with with Pastor Keith in the Telegram Tribune that they discovered the theft in May of 2018 (almost 7 years of embezzlement and $200,000.00) and that Claire “Eastin was a church employee for 12 to 13 years”, and that the embezzlement had been going on since January 2012. (6 months after the hostile takeover). By their own admission that means she was the church secretary for 5 or 6 years for Templeton Community Church before the hostile takeover. The ‘reason’ that the Christian and Missionary Alliance gave for their hostile take over was that ‘giving was down’ and Templeton Community Church was having difficulty making it’s financial obligations. Life Community Church and The Christian and Missionary Alliance has absolute no incentive to look into thefts that happened prior to July 2011 as any such findings would substantiate that some of the responsibility of the financial difficulties Templeton Community Church had was, because of an employee who they enlisted to help them with the hostile takeover and retained for 7 years and did not have any oversight over her being able to embezzle during all but 6 months of those 7 years. Please note that the Pastor of Life Community Church gave the interview to the Telegram Tribune this past week. 16 months after they initially discovered the theft. They then admittedly waited till November 2018 to report it to police. 6 months to report a $200,000.00 theft?? They were deciding whether to handle it internally? It is obvious the only reason they did not report it immediately is they did not want it to be common knowledge and in the press. The press only picked up this story this week!! 9 months after it was reported to police. Please go back to original articles on Cal Coast News about Hillside Church of Grover Beach being subjected to a hostile takeover and read the comments. I posted then about the Missionary and Christian Alliance, Life Community Church and Claire Eastin’s theft. Apparently none of the news agencies including Cal Coast bothered to read my posts and look into my allegations. All the financial records of Templeton Community Church were retained by the Christian and Missionary Alliance and they apparently have made no effort into finding out whether any embezzlement had taken place nor report any thefts prior to January 2012. Do you really think Ms. Eastin just began the thefts 6 months after the hostile takeover? I don’t. I have spoken to her and there was no remorse for any of this on her part. Not for the theft, not for being a part of the hostile takeover. Nothing. It was simply, “Yes I have a problem and need counseling “. The rest was nothing but blaming other people. This whole situation stinks so bad it would make a boat full of rotten fish smell good. Thank God God is in control here and hopefully everyone is learning the lessons He wants them to.


cat8canary

CMA also does not allow women to be in leadership positions in their so-called church. I’m surprised this woman was allowed to be near money.


Paso_citizen

Can someone please enlighten me on how this embezzlement case is any different than Sherry Gong’s? Other than the obvious fact that Mrs. Gong (and husband) have major connections into the SLO justice system that probably Mrs. Easton does not have. Surely she had some family emergency (like Gong) that made it necessary to take the money -,and of course she fully intended to pay it all back (right!).

But Mrs. Easton will likely go to prison – Gong will not. Justice is best served cold.


womanwhohasbeenthere

The case isn’t any different but don’t hold your breath that she’ll go to prison. Under realignment, embezzlement is not a sexual, violent, major crime so she’ll do a few months in jail, maybe even just weekends, and go free. Restitution? Don’t hold your breath, it NEVER happens! Probation doesn’t care.


AmericaTheFree

$200K in 6 years, I wonder how many meals could have been served with that, or how many blankets they could have given out, or how many other needful things could have been done?

Oh well, just a christian bein’ a christian and screwin’ other christians, so typical…