SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio woman who admitted to stealing more than $660,000 from a Windcrest church was sentenced to 7 years in prison, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office said.
Lavelle Wilson pleaded guilty on Feb. 4 to theft and misapplication of fiduciary property from the New Creation Christian Fellowship church.
Wilson was the executive assistant to Bishop David Copeland when the theft was discovered and had worked for the church more than 30 years, the DA’s Office said.
Officials said Wilson was in charge of two bank accounts linked to the church. The church’s executive committee conducted a review of the financial reports and expenses in 2019, according to the DA’s Office.
Wilson refused to turn over the financial statements, and the committee requested them from the bank. The DA’s Office said it was then that they discovered she had been taking money since 2014.
Officials say Wilson stole $667,542 from the church to pay for a trip to Hawaii, shopping sprees, upscale dining experiences, fast food, personal loan payments and cellphone payments. She also took cash from the church’s account for unknown expenses.
“That is a pretty selfish thing to do,” said Lt. Benjamin Crum with the Windcrest Police Department. “It’s pretty much taking money out of the offering plate. It is heartbreaking to know that she is out basically trying to get caught. I cant speak for the church or the victims, but that has got to be a big betrayal to them from someone they’ve known for so long.”
“I am a Christian, so I get sad when I see this kind of activity take place within a church because when that gets put out into the community, it sheds a Christianity in a negative light,” said Shaun Hurtado, a Windcrest resident. “But people have to remember that church people are people, and sometimes, people get caught not living upright. If you are going to that church, just continue to trust the leadership will carry the rest of the congregation through, and do the right thing and fill any of those gaps that may have happened in the past and to move forward.”
Wilson, who has no criminal history, has not paid any restitution. She is waiting to be transferred from the Bexar County Jail to a state facility.
“New Creation Christian Fellowship trusted this defendant to help them do some good for our community. Her violation of that trust hurt this community,” said District Attorney Joe Gonzales. “Now that she has accepted responsibility for her crime, I know the church and its members can focus on their faith and service to our community.”
“When she emerges back into society, I hope she puts her best foot forward and learn from her past mistakes,” Hurtado added.