MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A former church official in the south metro is accused of stealing more than $30,000 from the institution. He allegedly told investigators he was using the money to buy up to $400 in scratch off tickets daily, because he was behind on his mortgage.

Christopher Seiple, 48, of New Brighton, is charged via summons with four counts of theft by swindle, court documents filed this week in Dakota County show. He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 8.

According to a criminal complaint, an audit last month of the church in Mendota Heights uncovered numerous suspicious transactions involving checks deposited to Seiple’s account. Sepie was the church’s director of operations.

The audit found that between November 2018 and May 2019 multiple checks, with a total value more than $33,000, were deposited into Seiple’s account.

In an interview with investigators, Seiple admitted to issuing several checks to vendors on behalf of the church and depositing the checks into his own bank account. He said all the suspicious checks were unauthorized and fraudulent, the complaint states.

If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 10 years in prison on each count.