Treasurer Apologizes After Arrest In Church Embezzlement Case

A Van Buren man apologized Wednesday after being arrested on suspicion of embezzling $94,000 from a church and Christian school.

John R. Hays sent a statement to 5NEWS saying he is seeking forgiveness following his arrest last week in connection with the missing money. He was reportedly the treasurer of Vista Free Will Baptist Church and chief financial officer of Van Buren Christian Academy during the alleged embezzlement.

“I am truly sorry to have sinned against God by taking what wasn’t mine and to have disappointed those who placed their trust in me,” Hays said. “I am deeply ashamed of what I have done and am making restitution to repay. I know God forgives, and I am also seeking the forgiveness of others.”

“This is a bad situation,” Hays’ father John Hays, Sr. said.

The incident was reported after church officials looked at bank statements and made the discovery.

“He didn’t mean to do it,” said Hays, Sr. “We love him, he’s a good man. I`m just sorry it happened.”

After investigating, it was found that Hays had allegedly been embezzling the money over a course of four years, according to Van Buren police.

He was later terminated from the position after allegedly admitting that he stole the money. He willingly turned himself in to the Van Buren Police Department after a felony warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to a Van Buren police report, Hays stated he had his utilities turned off and was behind on bills.

He was booked into the Crawford County Detention Center on a $25,000 bond, police said.

13 comments

  • Johnny Porter

    I’d say 70-80% of Churches, or Business are being stolen from by employees.

    At restaurants employees will sneak out frozen cases of chicken breast in the trash can and come and get it out of the dumpster later.

    I owned a restaurant and basically went under due to theft and waste.

    I have had 5 Church homes in the past 45 years and all of them had big time money scandals at one point.

    I am not surprised one bit.
    Why can’t people just do the right thing for once?

  • Happy, happy, happy

    The news last night stated that he had been convicted onced before of embezzlement….duh….why would someone hire him again to manage money? Do people in this position not have to undergo background checks?

  • Barton Lewis

    headstart runs all the local abc and headstart programs im sure if he will steal from a church that the government needs to take a look as well. these places are funded by the state and federal government.

  • joesumone

    “I am truly sorry to have sinned against God by taking what wasn’t mine and to have disappointed those who placed their trust in me,” Hays said. “I am deeply ashamed of what I have done and am making restitution to repay. I know God forgives, and I am also seeking the forgiveness of others.”

    Luckily for him, the Christians in this area don’t forgive.

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  • Kerri Copeland

    So Hays says he stole because he had to pay his bills? Go get another job! Don’t take from others. We have bills to pay too, but I don’t go rob a bank or steal from others. If that was the case you could have went to the church and I’m sure they would have pitched in or pray to God and trust in him that he’ll provide. I don’t believe him it’s just his defense and exicuse. You got greedy and would still be doing it if you weren’t caught. By the way, so your electric bill was shut off for 4 years wow ( lol) You’re already a thief now a liar. Nobody’s perfect but this is just horrible. I can’t stand a crook..

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