South Georgia church loses more than $50k after former secretary uses money to buy things on Amazon

THOMAS COUNTY, Ga — A south Georgia church lost more than $50,000 after it was discovered secretary was using the funds for personal purchases, according to WALB-TV.

Debbi Howell. a former member and secretary of Celebration Church in Thomasville, was arrested earlier this month after the church’s pastor found some inconsistencies with credit card purchases on Amazon, but also bought lawnmowers and window air conditioners, according to the Thomas County Sheriff’s Department.

The Thomas County Sheriff’s Office arrested Howell in January in connection to these fraudulent credit card purchases.

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Howell’s arrest came after the church’s Pastor, Jimmy Bryson, discovered inconsistencies in credit card purchases back in November 2022.

Investigators looked into the church’s finances and found years of faulty paperwork and purchases Howell had made with church funds.

Bryson told WALB that Howell was the secretary for about eight years.


“This experience was really painful for the church because people give money every week and they expect that money to be spent in good faith,” said Bryson in a phone interview with WALB. However, he says the church has actually seen offerings increase recently, and he credits those blessings to the faithfulness of God.

Howell was released from custody and wrote an apology letter to the church, according to deputies.

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