Carter County

Church member accused of stealing thousands from church

Church member accused of stealing from church

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - A Carter County man is facing charges after police say he stole thousands of dollars from a church.

The church sets out in the country of Carter County with a faithful following of congregation members, but they recently learned one of their loved members was taking money from the church. Some community say hearing the news has them shocked. "It shocked me. I can't even believe someone would do something like this," says community member Wanda Barnette.

Barnette lives near the Beck Mountain Baptist Church and has even visited several times and couldn't believe the news. "To think that our country has come down to this, that you have to steal from the church and hide it for so long," adds Barnette.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes says they arrested 66-year-old Silas Edward Sams and charged him with theft over $60,000. "Some of those people have been friends for 25 or 30 years, and to have that trust broken a lot of hurt goes with that," says Mathes.

Sheriff Mathes says the church called them to investigate about six months ago when they noticed some discrepancies in their finical records. "Going back several years in the last six or seven years, an excess of $100,000 had been taken," adds Mathes.

Sams was the treasurer at the church. Mathes says their investigation showed Sams was writing checks to himself and he says the loss is a great one for the church. "They have a nice size congregation and have been around for a long time. The pastor has been there for a long time," says Mathes.

We spoke with several members of the congregation who didn't want to talk with us on camera but says Sams was a wonderful man.

Sams was released from the Carter County Jail on bond. His court date is set for November 25.

We talked with the pastor, who tells us he doesn't want to comment.

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