Church treasurer gets time for embezzling

Sunday, June 2, 2002

LIBERTY, Mo. -- The damage caused by a church treasurer's embezzlement goes beyond the stolen money, church members said at the man's sentencing.

"Figuratively speaking, he deliberately picked the pockets of his fellow church members, many who helped raise him in the church from childhood," said Thomas E. Sims, a retired Kansas City Municipal Court judge and chairman of the board of First Presbyterian Church in North Kansas City.

Kent Isaac Skidmore was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for stealing nearly $200,000 from the church.

Skidmore, 48, who was the congregation's volunteer treasurer, pleaded guilty April 5 to nine counts of forgery involving checks from the church. He was sentenced to nine concurrent seven-year prison terms.

Sims, who asked that Skidmore be sent to prison, said he would poll members about their opinions of the outcome. Several members at Friday's hearing said, however, that they wanted Skidmore to serve more time.

10 charges dismissed

Assistant prosecutor Dan White requested a sentence of consecutive five-year terms, for a total of 45 years in prison.

"For well over 10 years he violated the trust of fellow church members while going to church with them, smiling at them, praying with them," White said.

Skidmore originally was charged with 19 forgery counts, but 10 were dismissed under a plea agreement.

Sims said the incident had hurt the church's ability to extend charity.

"The final insult and example of remorseless arrogance was when he tried to cash at our bank his last forged check in the amount of $100 the morning after our minister informed him he had discovered we had only $200 remaining in our accounts," Sims said.

Clay County Circuit Judge James Welsh denied a defense request to place Skidmore in a prison drug-and-alcohol treatment program.

Skidmore made no remarks during the hearing, but had told police he was sorry for what he did. He also has told police he used most of the money for medical bills for his daughter, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

But his wife, who is seeking a divorce, has said that their daughter was diagnosed just months before Skidmore's arrest last year.

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