The former financial secretary for First Baptist Church in Pontotoc was arrested last Thursday evening in connection with a four-count indictment which alleges she stole more a half-million dollars in church funds over the past 14 years.
Pontotoc Police Chief Larry Poole said that Laura L. Franklin, 64, of Greenbriar Circle, Pontotoc, has been charged with two counts of embezzlement, one count of false pretense and one count of credit card fraud.
According to a supplemental notice of restitution which accompanied the indictment released late last Friday morning, the district attorney’s office is seeking restitution from Franklin which totals $537,277.74.
Chief Poole said that Franklin, accompanied by her attorney, Robert W. “Chip” Davis, Jr., of Tupelo, turned herself in at the Pontotoc Police station shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday.
Franklin was arrested and transported to the Pontotoc County Jail, where she was booked and processed, Poole said.
Franklin was later released on a $25,000 circuit court bond, which had been set by Judge James L. Roberts, Jr.
Franklin had been employed as financial secretary at First Baptist Church from September 1998 until some time in August 2013, when her employment was terminated.
Chief Poole said the indictment against Franklin was returned by a regularly scheduled Pontotoc County Circuit Court Grand Jury which was in session earlier this month.
Poole said the indictment was the result of a four-month investigation, which was launched when the church filed an official complaint on September 4, 2013.
A comprehensive audit of the church’s financial records, from 1999 through 2013, was completed in late December, Poole said.
The next regular scheduled term of Pontotoc County Circuit Court begins March 24.
An arraignment day is set for February 4.