Paso Robles woman sentenced to nearly 3 years for embezzlement

January 14, 2020

Claire Eastin

By CCT STAFF

A former office manager for the Life Community Church in Paso Robles, who was convicted of embezzling more than $200,000, received a prison sentence on Monday of two years and eight months.

Claire Easton, 51, was also ordered to pay $177,577 in restitution. Originally charged with three counts of embezzlement, Easton pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft through embezzlement as part of a plea deal.

Easton embezzled 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 embezzlement after she took over the accounting work while Easton was on sick leave. When confronted by church staff, Easton admitted to taking the money.


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Paso_citizen

Am I totally wrong in pointing out that this sentence seems a little high when compared to Sherry Gong? True, she embezzled more than Gong; but 3 years in state prison vs. 6 months in county jail doesn’t sound right. Maybe money and position does count; even though all parties say differently. Or maybe justice does wear a blindfold.


charger805

I know of a woman that embezzled at least this much from a local car dealership and she spent less than 2 months in county jail. Her crime caused the owner to drop the hammer in every possible way on the employees after she was caught and fired to punish anyone they could. It caused a mass exodus of long time employees and the ripple effect on some people was brutal.


I do NOT understand Califronia sentencing laws but they seem totally out of whack.


seeking truth

I am happy to finally see some justice. My understanding is that depositions are now being taken in the CMA vs Bethel Baptist Church case. The people involved should tell the truth and not lie!

Any of the bad actors involved in the attempted high jacking of Bethel should be really nervous right now!


catlady

As a member of LCC, I wanted to clear up some misconceptions, if I can. We found out in early 2018 that Claire had embezzling from our church. Because records had been destroyed, and the theft hidden in bogus charges and accounts as church expenses, it took quite awhile to find the truth, and how far this went back. The initial checking found $29502.75 for 2017 and the first two months of 2018. And mind you this was just what we could find from bank statements. Other things were bought on Amazon, and these took a little longer to find. By the time Claire admitted to the theft, we were well over $1000.000 . Purchases that had obviously been for non-church expenses, things like vacations and makeup. Eventually when we took our findings to the district attorney, the amount had climbed to almost $300,000. We went back as far as we could see any thefts, and it showed that the stealing started in 2012, about six months after Pastor Keith became our new pastor at the church. No stealing occurred during Pastor John’s time at LCC that we could discover from our records.


NorthCountyLady

Dear Catlady, It is obvious to anyone with any sense at all that of course no records were found prior to the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), Claire and the board of elders colluding to do a hostile takeover of Templeton Community Church (TCC) in July 2011. All those records were taken over by the CMA and have probably been destroyed. The excuse given to the members of TCC for the hostile takeover was that Pastor John was ‘mismanaging finances’ due to the fact that TCC was unable to meet mortgage payments to CMA. Does anyone really believe that although Claire as the church secretary for TCC for several years only started stealing after TCC became Life Community Church (LCC) ? And does anyone wonder about the fact that Larry (one of the elder board) the Treasurer of TCC (who is in charge of finances) was kept on by CMA to continue as the Treasurer of LCC ? And under his watch Claire stole from LCC for 6 years without anyone discovering it? Where was a checks and balances system, accountability, and double custody. For pete’s sake these are the basics of accounting and bookkeeping in any business, organization or institution. And Larry is a CPA!!!!! Either he is totally incompetent or was in on it with her. When you say, “No stealing occurred during Pastor John’s time at LCC that we could discover from our records,” can you please clarify if CMA made records from prior to July 2011 available to auditors, the DA, and those doing the financial investigation. Was an outside forensic financial audit done? Was CMA even asked for the records of the time period prior to the hostile takeover? I sincerely hope that CMA is exposed in their attempt to do a hostile takeover of Bethel Baptist Church. And as I have mentioned before Claire cried crocodile tears at her “confession” Sunday but later had no remorse except to badmouth and blame others. A sociopath for sure.


NorthCountyLady

I think that if and when Life Community Church receives any of this restitution, they should do the right thing and give 50% to Pastor John Kaiser previously the Pastor of Templeton Community Church and currently the Pastor of Live Oak Church in Paso Robles. This woman and the Christian and Missionary Alliance (the organization who tried to steal Bethel Baptist Church of Grover Beach away from its parishioners) hurt he and his family far beyond what she did to Life Community Church. At the very least she owes him a heart felt apology, however only God knows the heart and as of the last time I spoke to her, she had no remorse and only bitterness and blame toward others. I am so sorry for her family and what she has put them through. I’m glad however, that justice has been served.


SLO_Children_at_play

So if the money was taken in equal increments over the almost 6 years, that means she was taking about 30k a year. Damn, there are churches in this area that can have 30k a year go missing for 6 years without notice? I’m in the wrong business. I need to be out there hustling deities.


NorthCountyLady

The Board of Elders and Pastor at Life Community Church did not report her theft to law enforcement or the DA’s office for many , many months after they discovered that she had been stealing from the church for years for what was estimated to be $100,000.00 to $200,000.00. They informed the congregants at a congregational meeting in which she “tearfully” admitted she “had a problem” and she publicly “apologized” with the understanding she would be “forgiven” and would not face prosecution. They obviously did not want to face the negative publicity. The only government agency they reported the loss to was the IRS. And remember Claire Eastin was only the church secretary. The Treasurer of the Board of Elders did not know about this ongoing thefts for over 6 years?????? Really???? Either gross negligence or complicity!


shelworth

Does anyone know why she doesn’t have to pay it all back?


kayaknut

Wasn’t this person associated with Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), the group that is trying to steal the church in Grover Beach and also is accused of stealing money from the church’s account?


Haveaniceday

If you look up the following words in the dictionary in no particular order, you will find this women’s picture.

Liar, thief, manipulative, narcissistic, deceiver, rat, schemer, pilferer, swindler and embezzler!