Norwich police say treasurer took church funds for food, golf, liquor

Norwich — The former treasurer of the Grace Episcopal Church was arrested on a first-degree larceny charge Monday after allegedly admitting making repeated withdrawals of church funds for “pretty much anything he needed,” including rounds of golf at the Norwich Golf Course.

Andrew Rushford, 58, of 4 Chapel Hill Road — near the church, also on Chapel Hill Road — was charged with one count of first-degree larceny.

He initially was held on a $50,000 bond, but was released on a promise to appear after his arraignment in Norwich Superior Court on Tuesday.

He was released on a condition that he cooperate with a veterans' program, according to the court record.

In the arrest warrant affidavit, Norwich police Officer Avery Marsh reported being contacted by the unidentified senior warden at Grace Episcopal Church, who reported that Rushford allegedly stole more than $30,000 from the church bank account.

The warden told police he discovered the missing funds after he contacted the state diocese finance office and learned the church's payment for insurance and pledges had not been made.

The warden told police he confronted Rushford the next day, June 21, and, after accessing the church's bank account online, asked the treasurer if he had withdrawn funds for personal use.

Rushford allegedly admitted he did, and turned in the church debit card and checkbook, resigning from the treasurer position he had held since 2012.

In an interview with police, Rushford provided a signed sworn statement and admitted using the church debit card to withdraw funds “whenever he needed money” since April 2015.

Police said in a Wednesday news release that they've since discovered Rushford embezzled more than $43,000 from 2013 until his resignation.

“Typically the accused would withdraw $200 to use for personal things such as: food, alcohol, golf, pretty much anything he needed,” Officer Marsh wrote.

Marsh wrote that Rushford admitted to mostly using an ATM on West Town Street and an ATM at the Norwich Golf Course to withdraw funds.

Rushford also allegedly falsified church financial reports to cover for the missing funds and to falsely report having paid church bills, police said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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