A former church business manager facing jail time for embezzlement justified his actions because he felt slighted over a smaller-than-expected bonus, a prosecutor told a judge Friday.
Bill Dwight Coyle admitted stealing more than $58,000 from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.
Coyle, 62, of Edmond, pleaded guilty to eight counts of violating the state's computer crimes act because he used a computer to make the unauthorized purchases with a church-issued credit card.
He will be sentenced Monday by Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Watson.
Among the 880 items Coyle bought from the website Amazon with church money over a 12-year-period were a gun holster, a grenade pouch and a survival guide, records show.
Prosecutors said Coyle repaid the purchases periodically but stopped making payments when he received a $1,000 bonus from the church's former pastor for his work on a church lawsuit that was settled in 2010.
“He didn't feel like that was enough … that he was entitled to more,” Assistant District Attorney Angela Songgera told the judge. “He felt like he was owed that.”
Coyle was fired in 2012 after a co-worker told church officials Coyle owed the money.
The judge gave Coyle the weekend to decide whether to accept a 10-year deferred sentence, 90 days in the county jail and 500 hours of community service, or a five-year suspended sentence and 250 hours of community service.
A deferred sentence is not a conviction if the conditions of the sentence are met. A suspended sentence is a conviction.
Coyle has paid back $92,600 in restitution, including the cost of a church audit, his attorney said.
A friend of Coyle's paid the debt, the attorney said.
“Obviously, Mr. Coyle made some terrible errors in judgment over an extended period of time,” defense attorney Tom Riesen told the judge. “This is a decent man with a decent inner core.”
Coyle, who is not in custody, was accompanied to court by his wife. He apologized to church members for his behavior, which he acknowledged he received counseling for.
“I've let them down tremendously,” he said. “I was completely wrong; this is nobody's responsibility but my own.”