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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Woman, 77, gets probation in church embezzlement

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) - A 77-year-old woman has been sentenced to five years of probation for taking money from a Detroit-area church and has been ordered to repay $50,000.

Helen Gvozdich was sentenced Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, avoiding the possibility of up to two years behind bars. She earlier pleaded guilty to embezzlement in an agreement with prosecutors. Court records say a judge also ordered her to perform community service.

Her lawyer has said she devoted decades to serving the church and was the victim of an unfortunate series of events.

Authorities originally said that in 2008-2009 Gvozdich stole about $79,000 from St. Stevan Decanski Serbian Orthodox Church in Warren. Prosecutors say church officials agreed to accept $50,000 repayment if she pleaded guilty.

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