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Clerk Accused of $1 Million Church Theft Sentenced to Prison

By Irene Plagianos | October 11, 2012 12:49pm | Updated on October 11, 2012 2:06pm

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — The 67-year-old church clerk accused of embezzling more than $1 million from the New York Archdiocese was sentenced Thursday to 4½ to 9 years in prison.

Collins, a former accounts payable clerk in the church's education department, skimmed more than $1 million between 2004 and 2011 by issuing nearly 450 bogus checks, then routing the funds to accounts she controlled.

Prosecustors said Collins, who pleaded guilty to grand larceny in September, spent the filched cash on expensive clothing, jewelry, handmade collectible dolls and furniture.

She will also have to pay back the money as part of her plea deal — prosecutors said they will seize her pilfered property.

“You were put in a position of trust by a trusting religious organization,” said Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lewis Bart Stone before sentencing Collins, who has two other convictions — both for stealing from employers.

"The church gave you a second chance, and look what you did," said Stone. "It was outrageous."

When Collins was arrested in January and police searched the Throgs Neck, Bronx home she shares with her daughter, they found it filled with expensive clothes and jewelry, furniture and collectible handmade dolls, prosecutors said.

Collins had refused to previous plea deals in the past, her lawyer Howard Simmons maintainted, saying a long stint in jail would be too much for the frail, "very nice" woman.