Former official at Chalmette church accused of theft _lowres

Misty Colson

The former preschool director at First Baptist Church in Chalmette was arrested Friday amid accusations that she stole about $40,000 from the church.

Misty Colson, 30, of Violet, surrendered to the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office last week after an arrest warrant for her was issued March 23.

She was booked on a count of theft of $5,000 to $25,000, the Sheriff’s Office said.

John Dee Jeffries, senior pastor at the church, said in a news release Tuesday that church leaders believe Colson embezzled about $35,000 in cash from tuition and summer camp payments and improperly issued about $5,000 in payroll checks to herself or her husband in a two-year span beginning in 2013.

Colson was released on a $7,500 bond.

The Sheriff’s Office was asked to investigate in February by church officials, who allegedly discovered the situation after a series of financial audits showed improprieties and irregularities in how Colson processed the tuition and summer camp payments, according to the church’s news release.

Colson resigned from her position at the church after the audits began showing “more and more discrepancies,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries said the audit reports included “a series of handwritten notes by (Colson) redirecting cash tuition payments in an effort to conceal the tuition embezzlement scheme.”

Colson did not return a phone message Wednesday at a number listed for her.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY .