Judge sentences church thief
Kimberly Wheeler will serve 18 months for stealing $44,592 from a Kailua church
Kimberly Wheeler will have to spend nine more months behind bars for stealing $44,592 from Windward Unity Church and its pastor and opening credit card accounts in her daughter's name on which she racked up $12,000 in debt.
She will also have to pay back the money she stole from the church while she was its office manager.
Circuit Judge Richard Pollack sentenced Wheeler, 39, to five years' probation and 18 months in prison yesterday. She will get credit for the time she has been in custody since Aug. 15.
Wheeler said she is extremely sorry and that she knows she hurt many people.
"The past nine months has been really hard," she said, adding that she is now fearful of committing even minor infractions. "I don't even think I can ever even speed again. I am so terrified of ever ending up back where I've been."
David and Donna McClure, church pastors, said they have forgiven Wheeler and agree with Pollack's sentence.
"We appreciate the court's understanding in that to give her more jail time to consider her life and how she can create a better life for herself and society," said Donna McClure.
David McClure said, "We're more interested in the restitution order, which benefits our ministry."
Wheeler's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Jeffrey Ng, asked Pollack to give his client the opportunity to keep the theft and identity theft convictions off her criminal record or sentence her to probation with jail time equal to what she has already served.
Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter wanted Pollack to sentence Wheeler to 20 years in prison.
Wheeler wrote 38 checks on the church's checking account from February 2005 to February 2006, pocketing more than $33,000.
She also opened credit accounts for the pastor and church on which she charged a trip to Disneyland for her kids, airline tickets and computers, cameras and other electronic equipment.
She opened 12 credit card accounts using her daughter's identity from November 2000 to August 2002, when the girl was between 12 and 14 years old.