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Former St. John’s office manager jailed for aggravated theft

| January 31, 2023
St. John's United Church of Christ Board President Kathy Osler reads a statement at Jodi Davis' sentencing in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court for aggravated theft. The hearing came about after Davis (right) pleaded guilty to a bill of information accusing her of embezzling more than $100,000 from the church when she was its office manager. (WJER Radio)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 31, 2023) – The woman who admitted to stealing more than $100,000 from a Strasburg church while managing its finances will be spending the next few months behind bars.

57-year-old Jodi Davis of Dover is beginning a 90-day stay in the Tuscarawas County Jail for aggravated theft. Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos doled out the punishment Monday and ordered Davis to pay St. John’s United Church of Christ restitution for the more than $30,000 she pilfered that wasn’t covered by insurance.

“I can’t require anybody to pay back an insurance company but asking for restitution here of $30,924.36 doesn’t really touch the damage that’s been done.”

Davis was the church’s office manager for more than 13 years. She has no previous criminal history and the lowest recidivism risk score that Assistant County Prosecutor Scott Deedrick had ever seen, although he says that’s not unusual in these types of cases.

“They have access to the information and the funds and for whatever reason begin taking some money. They get away with it and it’s easy and they just keep it up and it escalates over time and then it becomes something monumental like we had in the case here.”

Church officials began investigating and ultimately let Davis go after finding discrepancies in its financial records. Board President Kathy Osler says Davis used the St. John’s banking, investment, and credit card accounts to make unauthorized purchases and ATM withdrawals, siphoning close to $200,000 away from charitable initiatives and facility improvements.

“We thought there were no funds available. Therefore, we had to hold fundraisers for any special projects or repairs such as badly needed replacement of our front doors, sealing and striping our parking lot, and replacing our antiquated sound system…

“As a result of her betrayal of our trust, members of our congregation were shocked and dismayed when this crime was discovered. Our church has been victimized.”

Thomakos also placed Davis on probation for five years and reserved a three-year prison term for violations.

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