Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Detroit Diocese: Where Is The Oversight?

by Gary Snyder

A 58-year-old priest has admitted participating in a scheme to steal from a charity fund that provides assistance to people in need in the inner city--- Detroit Diocese's Angel Fund.

He allegedly had a "relationship," described in the police statement as sexual, with a prison inmate whom prosecutors contend was the priest’s partner in establishing a scheme to make fraudulent requests for charity money from the Angel Fund. 

A woman who authorities say conspired with the aforementioned Catholic priest to embezzle money from a church charity was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

She and the priest are accused of defrauding the Angel Fund Catholic charity using an elaborate scheme consisting of "straw" applicants to apply for grants through the charity set up to help needy people in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.

The fund is supported by an anonymous donor family and administered by the Archdiocese of Detroit. Since 2005, it has provided more than $17 million in grants, according to the archdiocese.

Now a popular Catholic priest in Plymouth (MI) is removed as law enforcement officials investigate whether he improperly used parish funds — just as his brother, also a priest, is accused of doing at a Troy (MI) parish.

His brother the Rev. Edward Belczak, 69, and his church administrator were indicted in April for stealing about $700,000 from St. Thomas More Church in Troy over eight years, according to federal prosecutors. Edward Belczak and Janice Verschuren, 67, of Bloomfield Hills used almost $110,000 they stole from parishioners to pay the closing costs of the 2005 sale of Verschuren's condo in Palm Beach, Fla., to Belczak, prosecutors said in April. The Detroit Free Press reported that the condo was worth $500,000.

The brothers' downfall has shocked many Catholics in metro Detroit who saw them as gregarious priests helping grow their congregations. With 2,400 families, the Plymouth parish is one the biggest in Wayne County; the Troy parish is one of the biggest in Oakland County.

And in Oklahoma, a Tulsa minister has pleaded guilty to wire fraud after he was accused of taking nearly $1 million from the Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project, which is a nonprofit organization aimed at raising money to build a community center.a nonprofit he created.

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: Charity Navigator, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), “Betrayal”, (a movie), NBC (on Charity Fraud…TBD), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times, Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle, Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog, National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, Finance and Administration Roundtable Newsletter,, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit,, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner,, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today,, Far-roundtable, #Nonprofit Report, nonprofithelpnews, nonprofit news; National Enquirer, Northwest Herald, The HelpWise Daily, The #Nonprofit Report, Wikipedia (Nonprofit Organization),, Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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