$400K Missing From A Catholic Church In Troy. Did The Thief Wear A Roman Collar?

January 23, 2013, 6:43 AM

The list of serious mismanagement allegations against a Troy pastor has eight bullet points in an Archdiocese of Detroit statement, including one involving a "ghost employee" paid $240,000.

Berlczak"Father Edward Belczak has been required to temporarily step aside as pastor, pending further steps by church officials," says the Tuesday night announcement, citing "the discovery of questionable financial transactions and practices during an Archdiocese of Detroit audit at St. Thomas More Parish, Troy."

The clergyman, 67, is so mistrusted that he was kicked out of his parish residence, the archdiocese says.

Troy police are investigating the possible embezzlement, according to regional church leaders, who add: "The archdiocese has fully cooperated with civil authorities in this case and will continue to do so."

These are among alleged improprieties totaling more than $400,000 since 2007, in the archdiocese's words:

  • Compensating, with benefits, an individual best described as a “ghost employee,” estimating a loss of $240,000 to the parish over the past six years.
  • Taking excess compensation beyond archdiocesan policies, estimating a loss of $92,000 to the parish over the past six years.
  • Accepting and directing funds to himself that should have been posted to parish accounts, estimating a loss to the parish of $16,000 over the past six years.
  • Largest
    St. Thomas More Parish [Photo by Patricia Drury]

    In addition to alleged payments to a "ghost employee," Belczak is accused of "authorizing a long-term disability policy for one employee, while not providing a similar benefit to other parish staff members, estimating a loss of $20,000 to the parish. 

    Bookkeeping allegedly was so loose at St. Thomas More that auditors say they found more than $10,000 in "unmonitored" cash in an employee’s office desk at the Adams Road church. 

    The list of particulars also says Belczak didn't "record or deposit monies received through the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day special collections according to archdiocesan policies."

    A parishioner, Jean Crane of Troy, stands by her priest. "Fr. Belczak is not an accountant, he is a great priest and we support him 100%," she posts Wednesday at Troy Patch's Facebook page.

    -- Alan Stamm

    Read more:  Archdiocese of Detroit

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