Former Fort Atkinson pastor accused of stealing thousands of dollars meant for people in need

Former Fort Atkinson pastor accused of stealing thousands of dollars meant for people in need

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. - A former Fort Atkinson pastor is facing a felony theft charge after being accused of stealing thousands of dollars of church money.

Bryan Engfer is accused of stealing money from the church's “Pastor’s Discretionary Fund.” The account was intended to be used to help people in need of gas money, rent or utilities.

Between April 2012 and April 2018 Engfer embezzled more than $13,000 from Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Atkinson, according to the criminal complaint.  The complaint alleges Engfer wrote checks to Goben Cars for a vehicle and Koshkonong  Mounds Country Club, where Enger was a member. Engfer issued a check to his brother and wrote other checks he originally claimed were for continuing education. 

"It's really personal I think for a lot of people who put their trust or faith in Pastor Bryan," said Fort Atkinson Police Captain Jeff Davis. 

Fellow pastor Amy Waelchli and Trinity Counsel President Ronald Michaelis confronted Engfer in May. Engfer could not explain why the checks were written from the discretionary fund, according to the complaint.  He admitted none of the money used was for continuing education.  Engfer resigned from Trinity later in May. A criminal investigation was opened in July. 

Trinity Lutheran opened an outside audit of the fund. According to Wegner CPA’s audit, Engfer stole $13,857.41 from the fund over a six-year span. Engfer claimed he owed $4,000, according to the criminal complaint. 

A request for comment from Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Atkinson was not immediately returned. His next court appearance is Nov. 29 in Jefferson County.

Police are asking anyone with additional information to step forward.

"If there are other people out there who may hav received money ford different reason that were not appropriate we ask them to come forward and talk to one our detectives about that," Davis daid. 

If convicted, Engfer faces a $10,000 fine and up to six years in prison. 


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