Accountant accused of embezzling more than $1 million from abbey

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NELSON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It's a massive theft case that police say involves more than one million dollars. And the victim is a Nelson County abbey run by an order of Catholic monks.

The former accountant at the Abbey of Gethesmani and his wife now face hundreds of charges, but he claims he's a victim of retaliation.

Now the Abbey of Gethsemani holds the biggest embezzlement case Detective Jason Allison has had on his hands.

"It's the largest one I've worked to date. I worked some large ones," said Detective Jason Allison, with the Nelson County Sheriff's Office.

It's a serene, holy place where monks live and pray. But now a former employee, John Hutchins, and his wife, Carrie, who were once entrusted with the monastery's finances, are accused of stealing from the institution since 2008.

"Initially they had noted a money transfer that was suspicious," said Detective Allison.

Transfers of a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands at a time adding up to more than one million dollars. Indictments hold 348 counts against the couple of theft, unlawful access to a computer, and complicity to commit those crimes. But it doesn't end there. To John Hutchins, this is retaliation after he circulated a 13-page letter, including video, which reveals alleged sexual activity among staff there.

"The things he's alleging, he's talking about affairs," said Detective Allison. "If they occurred, I don't care. I don't investigate affairs. I don't know if that occurred or not to be honest with you."

The Abbey of Gethsemani released a statement, saying this breach of trust has been harmful to the good will of its employees and others. The institution is now developing a new system of financial controls.

The detective says John Hutchins could face an additional charge if he has video of the alleged sexual activity as he claims. The couple's attorney says they will plead not guilty later this month at their arraignment.

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