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TBI: Man stole nearly $200,000 from Hendersonville church

WSMV Nashville 12/13/2022 Danica Sauter, Daniel Smithson
Daniel Meadows © Provided by WSMV Nashville Daniel Meadows

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Hendersonville man was indicted earlier this month after he was accused of stealing from a church where he worked.

On June 22, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began investigating after a reported theft from a Hendersonville church. During the investigation, officials found Daniel Meadows, who worked at Long Hollow Church, had access to funds as part of his job, according to a TBI media release.

Long Hollow Church said in a statement Meadows was an operations specialist and executive assistant. The church said in the statement the investigation revealed Meadows made fraudulent and personal purchases using the church accounts. Over a two-year period, Meadows allegedly stole $198,775 from the church.

The church said he was immediately terminated from its staff.

On Dec. 2, Meadows was indicted with one count of theft of property between $60,000 and $250,000. He was arrested on Monday and booked into the Sumner County Jail on a $7,500 bond.

Long Hollow Church released the following statement regarding the alleged theft:

Church Family,

We’re writing to share some difficult news with you today. Less than two weeks ago, we discovered that one of our staff members (Daniel Meadows, a Campus Operations Specialist and Executive Assistant) had been systematically abusing his access to church resources. He was immediately terminated from our staff and an ongoing internal investigation has uncovered more than $100,000 in fraudulent and personal purchases using church accounts. Law enforcement has been informed, but the extent and full scope of this abuse has yet to be determined.

We’re informing you of this today because we always want to be transparent with you. As a church staff, integrity is one of the most important values we have, and we take any breach of that trust seriously. Our staff has long been supervised by a system of yearly external audits and internal financial controls. It was one of these checks that helped our business operations team uncover this theft.

We passed our most recent external audit this spring, but no system or safeguard is 100% effective against a determined employee. Despite our rigorous safeguards, Daniel was in a unique position to exploit the system by spreading dozens of purchases across different budget lines and disguising his behavior behind events and other complex projects. Our external auditing firm has now suggested a few ways for us to strengthen our internal controls, and we’re putting their suggestions into place immediately. It’s only natural to wish this theft would’ve been caught sooner, but we are thankful that the truth has come out. It may be some time before the investigations into this situation are complete, but we will inform you of the results when it’s time to pursue next steps.

As you can imagine, this news has been devastating to our staff. We find ourselves seeking justice for the financial abuse that’s taken place, but also seeking mercy and healing for a brother who has fallen prey to sin. Join us in praying for Daniel and his family in the days ahead.

Even in the early pages of Genesis, Scripture tells us that sin “crouches at the door, waiting to become your master.” We want to leave you with the same charge we gave to our staff last week: We are all vulnerable to sin, and no one is immune from letting little compromises turn into habitual sin that will wreck your life. Confess your sins to each other, be excellent at what is good, and be innocent of evil. Don’t give the enemy a foothold in your life.

We’ll share more with you once the investigations are complete.

Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor and Collin Wood, Executive Pastor

More information can be found on the church’s website.

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