Cary woman denies stealing more than $3,000 from church charity box

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Cary woman told ABC11 that she did not steal more than $3,400 from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church just three miles from her home.

Rosario Eraso-Lopez is accused of taking the money from the church's Rice Box fund.

During Lent, parishioners are given cardboard boxes to collect spare cash for Catholic Relief Services to help the less fortunate.

After the church informed Cary police of the missing donations, investigators found out that a cleaning crew at the church had noticed a suspicious woman there April 11.

A member of the crew took a picture of the woman's car that included the license-plate number.

Investigators said they searched the home associated with the plate on Wicklow Drive and found $3,000 in cash inside.

They charged Eraso-Lopez, 68, with felony larceny.

On Wednesday, when she answered the door at her home ABC11 told her, "I wanted to get your side of the story. Did you take $3,000 from the church?"

She acted surprised and responded with one word.

"What?" she said.

When asked again whether she stole the money from the church she said, "No sir. No sir. No sir."

Police have also charged her husband with conspiracy in connection with the crime.

They say Rodolfo Lopez, 70, deposited some of the cash in State Employees Credit Union accounts.

When arrested, he listed his employer as "NCSU."

North Carolina State University confirmed that he has been employed there as an engineer for 17 years.

A spokesman for the church said he doesn't know the couple's circumstance but said theft of charity money is ironic.

"The money is going directly to Catholic Relief Services and all that goes to folks that really need it. And if people come to us with a need we're going to be there for them," said Dave Wulff. "And here's a situation where if they knocked on our door, we would have been able to help them if they needed help.

Although Eraso-Lopez denies being involved in the crime, Cary police are convinced she did it.

They are now asking any other churches in the area that may be missing money to call investigators.
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