Church donates $2,400 to historic Brownwood cemetery as part of restitution for ex-member

BROWNWOOD, Texas -- A 150-year-old Brownwood cemetery recently received a check in the mail from the church of a former employee that was convicted of embezzling funds.

The Moody Leon United Methodist Church donated $2,400 to Greenleaf Cemetery to go towards Tisha Pruett's restitution. The former office manager was convicted last month for embezzling $24,000 from Greenleaf Cemetery.

A state district court judge sentenced Pruett to eight years in prison and ordered she pay back the money she stole.

"I will never understand why previous board members, who have been in my position or on the board, did not raise alarms years ago," said Steve Harris, president of the Greenleaf Cemetery Association.

Pruett's old church is in McLennan County and the check arrived on Feb. 15.

"A partial payment of restitution means we can partially move forward," Harris said. "This is a repayment to what was stolen... the damage was immense and it goes way beyond the amount that she was found guilty of stealing."

Harris said part of that damage is an erosion of trust from community members, which has been caused by poor board decisions in the past.

The association just finished paying $25,000 in taxes it owed from 2012 to 2016, a payment that doesn't include fines or penalties, according to Harris. Moreover, the tax issue caused Greenleaf to lose its non-profit status.

"We're repairing what's broke and we are trying to put things in place where these sorts of things never happen again," said Freda Day, a volunteer who's helping to build a historic walking trail in Greenleaf.

Day also previously served as Greenleaf's office manager.

Still, Kohler has decided to partner with Greenleaf Cemetery and has donated some decorative items.

Harris said he hopes bringing transparency to the board will help regain the community's trust.

"Overall, I see light and I see hope," Harris said.

The board will meet Tuesday to discuss fundraising opportunities.

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