- Associated Press - Thursday, February 23, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A former Las Vegas church treasurer has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for stealing nearly $1.5 million from his congregation, prosecutors said Thursday.

Gregory J. Olson also was sentenced for failing to report the embezzled money as income on his 2006-2009 tax filings, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.

Olson, 52, who now lives in Ryder, North Dakota, pleaded guilty in May 2016 to wire fraud and tax fraud. He was sentenced in Nevada.

Dozens of affected Calvary Lutheran Church members were in the courtroom Wednesday when Olson asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon for leniency, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (https://bit.ly/2mp6Kau).

Parishioner Alan Clark said they wanted to forgive Olson. But he still asked the judge to send Olson to prison.

Olson’s attorney, Kathleen Bliss, said Thursday that Olson wept and apologized to church members. She noted that his sentence was less than the 10 years that prosecutors sought.

The judge allowed Olson to remain free until late May so his children could finish the school year before he begins serving his sentence.

Bliss also disputed the government’s loss calculations. She said Olson obtained church approval for some loans during the years he was treasurer.

Bogden said Olson’s fraud bankrupted the church, which the Review-Journal reported lost its building to foreclosure. It has since reopened in a new location with a new name - Amazing Grace Lutheran Church of Las Vegas.

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