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Woman accused of taking more than $500K from church

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- Police said a former church financial administrator was arrested and charged with taking at least a half million dollars from a Chesterfield church.

Chesterfield County Police said Jerri S. Hunter, 39, of Hopewell, is charged with 11 felony counts of embezzling money from Chester United Methodist Church.

Hunter was dismissed from the church in May for an unrelated issue. While organizing documents normally handled by Hunter, volunteers found numbers didn't add up.

"The amount stolen from the church is over a half million dollars. It is a very serious crime," said Lt. Steve Grohowski.

Over the course of those six years, police said she stole a half million dollars. Investigators are pouring over records and say that total could go much higher.

Harold Crowder, spokesman for the church and financial committee vice chair, said he and the congregation of more than 1300 feels betrayed by a once trusted colleague.

Crowder said the money stolen could have been used for missionary work here at home and abroad.

"We're drawing strength from each other through prayer. Those ministries have been affected by the reduction in funds. Obviously we could have done more if we had more," said Crowder.

For members of the congregation, the sting of the alleged crime will linger.

"We had people that were working side by side with her on a day-to-day basis. It is going to take some healing to move on," said Crowder.

Hunter is facing 14 counts of embezzlement and each charge carries a possible one to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Hunter, who was denied bond at a hearing Friday, is being held without bond at Riverside Regional Jail. Her next court date is Sept. 11.