Cases against two Mount Airy residents accused of stealing from their church were dismissed with leave Tuesday in Surry County District Court.
Shirley Martin Combs, 77, of Knob Drive, was charged in October 2014 with seven counts of felony embezzlement by a public officer.
According to the arrest warrant, Combs allegedly corruptly used funds and accounts belonging to Bottom Road Tabernacle Church, on Bottom Road, while she served as the church’s pastor and president.
Mark D. Combs, 56, of Knob Drive, was charged with felony financial card fraud for allegedly using the church’s debit card for more than $500 worth of products from Lowe’s Foods, according to a warrant issued the same day.
Both were released with a $5,000 unsecured bond each.
The governing body of the church filed the complaint with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office after a new pastor had taken over, according to Jerrel McGee, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case.
The resulting investigation revealed probable cause enough to seek charges, McGee said.
The dismissals were negotiated based on an agreement with terms set by the current church administration.
Dismissed with leave means the charges will remain valid but the case won’t appear on the docket or be prosecuted as long as the conditions are met.
A letter to the court signed by church officials Kelly Haynes, pastor/president, Tammy Hanes, co-pastor/vice president and trustees Kenneth Goins, Nathan Causey and Freddy Haynes stipulated that:
• Shirley Combs, Mark Combs and Dianna Nunn be permanently banned from the church.
• The above stop all negative talk, gossip or “any other forms of harassment” against the church, which includes “using other people to act on their behalf.”
• Items such as a piano, an organ and landscaping equipment, which were left at the church after their departure, become the church’s property to help compensate for alleged losses.
• While they may visit the grave of their “husband/dad” they “must use the church driveway and do not drive through the church lawn.” Shirley Combs may be buried on site with her deceased husband, and Mark Combs, Dianna Nunn, Paulette Schinault, Harold Schinault may be buried at the grove off the church, with the placement of graves at the church’s discretion.
Shirley Combs and Mark Combs declined to comment.
During the proceeding Mark Combs said he wasn’t “100 percent” satisfied with the terms but agreed for the sake of the dismissal.
Terri Flagg can be reached at 415-4734.