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SIOUX CITY -- The former treasurer of a Graettinger, Iowa, church pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing nearly half a million dollars from the church over a 14-year period.

Andrew Matheason, 65, of Graettinger, entered his plea to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Matheason was treasurer of Bethel Lutheran Church from 2003-17 and took at least $497,297. Matheason admitted that he wrote checks to himself and set up a fictitious company and wrote checks from the church's bank account to the fake company. He also set up electronic transfers of funds from the church's accounts to pay his credit card bills.

To conceal his activities, Matheason created false financial reports to present to church leaders.

Matheason faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

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