A Catholic priest who served in a parish in Michigan for 30 years recently entered a guilty plea in a federal case involving mail fraud. Original charges included six white collar crimes counts related to fraud and embezzlement. It is alleged that the priest spent parish funds on personal enrichment and submitted fraudulent reports to the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Court documents show that the defendant opened a separate bank account in which he deposited $420,000 that a widow's trust left to the parish in 2006. Furthermore, the prosecution claims a $10,000 annual donation to the parish from another church member was also fraudulently taken by the priest for personal benefit. The priest apparently admitted to the court that he failed to advise the Archdiocese of these donations.
The priest contends that he was always under the impression that the money was gifted to him in his personal capacity. According to the plea deal, the priest will forfeit a $500,000 condo in Florida that he funded with a portion of the widow's bequest. Also, restitution of $573,000 has to be paid. It was revealed that the condo was purchased from the parish manager, who is also facing theft charges in a separate case.
A Michigan resident who is accused of committing white collar crimes may benefit from retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Under the guidance of a lawyer, the possibility of a plea agreement can be explored while also pursuing a vigorous defense. In cases in which plea deals are offered, the attorney can advise the accused person, but the decision to accept or reject the deal will remain that of the defendant.
Source: freep.com, "Priest pleads guilty to fraud in $573K church theft", Patricia Montemurri, Sept. 1, 2015