PUNTA GORDA, Fla.-_ 61-year-old Linda Bischoff turned herself in to Charlotte County deputies Monday for allegedly stealing more than $24,000 from a church where she worked as the secretary.
The investigation began on July 19, 2013 when employees of Pilgrim United Church of Christ went to the Sheriff's Office to report that the former church secretary had been using the church credit card to buy food, household goods, hardware, home repair and personal care items for years.
Bischoff gave her resignation to the church in June, when her hours were reduced to cut costs. After she left, the church discovered financial discrepancies.
According to her arrest report, the investigation revealed Bischoff had made purchases totalling nearly $22,000, including a washer, dryer and big screen TV for her home.
A breakdown shows more than $18,000 was spent at Sam's Club alone. More than $1,000 more at both Home Depot and Ace Hardware.
Bischoff is also accused of writing checks from the church's account, made payable to herself, totalling $2,100. Pastor Newmann also accused her of stealing miscellaneous items, like petty cash, around the church.
Personnel from the church confronted Bischoff in early July, when she allegedly admitted to using the credit card for personal use and asked if she could set up a payment plan to return the funds she had stolen. She was claiming she could pay $50 a month.
Bischoff told the church, she "mainly purchased groceries because her husband was out of work, and she worked many hours without being compensated."
Bischoff agreed to turn herself into deputies in April, but was then allegedly hospitalized. A warrant was issued for her arrest. Bischoff then turned herself in Tuesday.
The church gave WINK News a statement saying, they were "brokenhearted and saddened, and they were praying for Linda."
Bischoff's attorney did not want to comment.