Thursday, April 4, 2013

Feds Take Lead In Church Fraud

by Gary Snyder

The FBI has taken over a criminal investigation into whether a popular Catholic priest in Troy, Michigan embezzled over $400,000.

"In the last decade or so, you've seen more and more cases the FBI has gotten involved in with the Catholic clergy, in variety of criminal areas" said Kathleen McChesney, formerly the third highest ranking FBI agent in the U.S.

Nonprofit Imperative has followed the removal of Rev. Edward Belczak, the pastor at the St. Thomas Parish. Belczak is accused of misappropriation of at least $429,000 using the money to pad his salary. He is also being investigated for paying a ghost employee $240,000 over six years, accepting $25,000 that should have been deposited into parish accounts and providing improper medical and dental coverage to a parish member and employee, among other accusations. 

He bought a $500,000 luxury condo from his longtime church manager, who was removed after the investigation was initiated. It is unclear how the the priest paid for the home when Catholic priests' annual salaries are about $27,500 to the $30,000 range. (Free Press)

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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