EDMORE, N.D.-An Edmore pastor pleaded guilty Friday for stealing nearly $35,000 from his congregation throughout the last 14 years.
Donald Lee Reynolds, born in 1959, was sentenced to either spend a month behind bars or complete 300 hours of community service. He was ordered to pay back nearly $40,000 as restitution and will be on probation for three years. The maximum punishment for his felony theft charge is 10 years in prison.
A criminal complaint said Reynolds was a pastor at an Edmore church and took $34,668 from the church by submitting false charges and receiving reimbursements.
Bishop Terry Brandt of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Eastern North Dakota Synod in Fargo said the money was stolen from High Plains Ministry, a congregation of six churches in the northeast portion of the state that consolidated in 2004. Reynolds has been a pastor with the church since it formed. The ministry includes Lutheran churches in Edmore, Nekoma, Adams, Lawton, Fairdale and Doyon.
Brandt said Reynolds resigned in June when he was confronted about the missing funds.