Ex-Church Treasurer Arrested on Felony Grand Theft Charges
The former treasurer of a Glendale church was arrested Thursday on charges that he embezzled more than $300,000 worth of church funds over a two-year period, using the money to pay off credit card debts and other personal expenses.
Bruce Edward Wahl, 57, of Burbank, was treasurer of Salem Lutheran Church from 1986 to late 1993, when he left amid allegations that he had misused church funds. Glendale police said they have been investigating the case ever since, and recently compiled enough evidence to arrest Wahl.
“He was in charge of all the church’s banking, and he had access to checks for all the checking accounts,” said Investigator Bill Maupin. “Whenever the need arose, he would write a check for whatever purpose.”
Wahl faces five counts of felony grand theft and was slated to be arraigned in Glendale Superior Court today.Police said he had long been plagued by financial troubles, and had recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. He worked as an agent for a Burbank real estate office.
Maupin said the charges against Wahl are only for alleged embezzling that occurred between 1991 and 1993, but police believe he may have been misusing church funds much longer than that.
“We know he was using some of it to pay off his bills, but exactly what he did with all of that $300,000, we can’t prove. Some of it apparently was just squandered.”
Church officials could not be reached for comment.