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  1. #1
    BetteDavisEyes's Avatar
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    MI - Two brothers, both priests, removed amid church finance scrutiny

    January 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Parishioners at Troy church shocked by fiscal allegations against priest

    Troy — Parishioners at St. Thomas More Church were shocked Wednesday to learn their longtime pastor was temporarily removed while authorities investigate accusations that he mishandled thousands of dollars in church money over the past six years.

    Alexandra Mauro of Troy, who grew up in the parish, said the Rev. Edward Belczak is kind, friendly and well-liked.

    "There are over 2,500 families at St. Thomas More and yet he always seems to remember everyone's names," Mauro said. "Regardless of what happens, I truly believe the parish will stand behind him. He has been too good of a priest and person for us to turn our backs on him now...

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz2Jrak1vHH



    January 31, 2013 at 9:40 am

    St. Thomas More employee leaves amid condo investigation

    Troy — A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit said Wednesday a longtime church employee who sold a $500,000 Florida condominium to the priest who is the focus of an embezzlement probe is no longer employed at St. Thomas More Church.

    At the center of financial questions is the Rev. Edward Belczak, 67, the popular pastor of the Troy church for nearly 30 years. He has not been criminally charged, but was "temporarily excluded" as head of the church and also his church-provided lodgings Jan. 22 after an archdiocese audit revealed $429,000 in "questionable financial transactions and practices..."


    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz2Jra3vgxT

  2. #2
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    Im shocked that the parish is going to stand behind him and support him.
    A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.


  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIMOMMY View Post
    Im shocked that the parish is going to stand behind him and support him.
    Oh, it doesn't surprise me at all! There are always parishoners who, even in the face of facts, rationalize it all away when it involves the parish priest.

    This is why the Catholic Church is dying out in this country. Unchecked behavior by priests, enabling parishoners and everyone above the parish level looking the other way. Who can respect that? Not me.
    All posts from me are MY OPINION ONLY

  4. #4
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    Sad

    I was raised as a Catholic and researched many other religions as well. Since then I have labeled myself a Non-Denominational Christian.

    Organized religion is something that I tend to have a problem with. Seems the groups tend to manipulate the Word to benefit their agenda.

    If in fact this priest stole money from the church I am also surprise that the parishioners are standing behind him.
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  5. #5
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    Guinevere - I was raised Catholic as well. I would not be suprised to see the older parishioners stand by his side if he has been their priest for as long as the article states. I would be shocked to see the younger generation be as forgiving. For the most part the younger generation *IMO* is less forgiving and in fact many times feels like they have to make an example of such individuals after all of the scandals effecting the Catholic church in recent years.
    A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.


  6. #6
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    DH and I belonged to STM from the mid-80s to mid-90s. While many will argue that Fr. Belczak is a great guy who makes Sunday liturgy entertaining with his jokes, the man has a huge ego. STM and St. Hugo in Bloomfield Hills are two of the wealthiest parishes in the Archdiocese. When Fr. Ed's colleague, Fr. Tony Tocco at St. Hugo was able to build a brand new $7M church, Belczak was determined to get his own palatial digs despite the fact that parishioners voted it down since they had already financed a renovation/expansion of the education wing of the existing church building.

    Fr. Ed started manipulating church finances back then to get what he wanted - a brand new church without a fund-raising campaign. We knew that something was fishy about the project, and I think it's just the tip of the iceberg. That was 15+ years ago and long before the female "financial manager" entered the picture. We left the parish and haven't attended church at all since that time. It really comes as no surprise to learn that Fr. Ed was finally caught "cooking the books". He's full of himself and thought that he could fool everyone because he's such a nice guy. He's earned his comeuppance and learning now that pride goes before the fall.
    Last edited by BetteDavisEyes; 02-05-2013 at 02:03 PM. Reason: typo

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by michmi View Post
    Oh, it doesn't surprise me at all! There are always parishoners who, even in the face of facts, rationalize it all away when it involves the parish priest.

    This is why the Catholic Church is dying out in this country. Unchecked behavior by priests, enabling parishoners and everyone above the parish level looking the other way. Who can respect that? Not me.
    Some parishioners might defend Fr. Belczak publicly, but if they suspect that there is any truth to the allegations and that the possibility exists that money that they contributed to the parish was misused, weekly offerings will decline. Parishioners who feel wronged by their pastor and the decisions that have been made have one avenue to express their dissatisfaction: Their financial donations to the parish in weekly collections and/or other fund-raising campaigns. This has happened in other local parishes and tends to make a huge impact on the pastor's ability to sustain the parish.

    When Fr. Ed isn't saying Mass on weekends - amusing and entertaining parishioners with his humor - people will stop attending, and weekly collections will likely deteriorate. There will probably be parishioners who choose to go elsewhere in the wake of the embezzlement accusations because they feel betrayed by a man whom they previously respected (like DH and I did with the new church building project). I sincerely doubt that all parishioners will stand behind and support Fr. Belczak. There are far too many well-educated, well-to-do people in the parish to not question what might have been going on behind closed doors.

  8. #8
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    FBI joins investigation

    April 4, 2013 at 6:27 am
    FBI joins investigation of financial mismanagement at Troy church

    By Mike Martindale
    The Detroit News

    Troy — The FBI is investigating alleged financial mismanagement and possible embezzlement of $429,000 at St. Thomas More Church in Troy, police confirmed Wednesday.

    Questionable financial transactions were discovered in January during an Archdiocese of Detroit audit of the parish. The Troy Police Department began an investigation and the Rev. Edward Belczak has been temporarily removed as pastor.

    No one has been charged with any criminal conduct, said Troy Police Sgt. Andy Breidenich.

    "It is still under investigation and the FBI came in last month and began looking into aspects and we are continuing our investigation into possible health care fraud," he said...

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz2PWjjwq00

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    OMG it gets even worse.

    I wonder how health care fraud figures into this? Or if one of the parishoners is the link?
    All posts from me are MY OPINION ONLY

  10. #10
    BetteDavisEyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by michmi View Post
    OMG it gets even worse.

    I wonder how health care fraud figures into this? Or if one of the parishoners is the link?
    These statements from the above linked article suggest the possibility of health care fraud:

    Compensating a "ghost employee" with $240,000 in pay and benefits

    Maintaining improper medical/dental insurance coverage for an individual, an expense of about $26,000

    Authorizing a long-term disability policy for one employee, while not providing a similar benefit to other parish staff members, costing the parish $20,000

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...#ixzz2PYfTIq5Q


  11. #11
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    Supporters of Troy priest accused of fraud push for his return

    Published: Monday, June 10, 2013

    By CAROL HOPKINS
    carol.hopkins@oakpress.com Twitter: @opcarolhopkins

    Barbara Peluso of Troy often thinks back about how the Rev. Edward Belczak helped her family.

    “He was there for our family when our daughter was hospitalized and visited her several times, bringing a teddy bear with him to cheer her up,” said Peluso, a long-time member of Troy’s St. Thomas More Catholic Church.

    Belczak, who has served as the pastor there since 1984, is under investigation for possibly mishandling more than $400,000.

    The most significant amount involved was alleged compensation and benefits for an individual best described as a “ghost employee,” who an estimated loss of $240,000 to the parish over the past six years, officials said.

    At the end of May, Belczak sued the city of Troy in an effort to have his assets unfrozen...

    http://www.theoaklandpress.com/artic...mode=fullstory

  12. #12
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    Priest's assets remain frozen

    I read this article in January but forgot to post the update on the Troy, MI priest embezzlement case. DH donated blood at St. Thomas More a week or so ago and learned that a permanent pastor will be assigned to the parish in July.

    January 13, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Judge keeps St. Thomas More Parish priest's accounts frozen

    Mike Martindale/The Detroit News

    Pontiac — An Oakland Circuit judge ruled Monday that assets of a former St. Thomas More Parish priest, totaling at least $300,000, should remain frozen after being told federal authorities want to seize the accounts.

    The Rev. Edward Belczak, the popular longtime pastor at the Troy parish, is not criminally charged but apparently remains at the center of an ongoing probe involving Troy police and federal agencies of “questionable transactions and practices” at the parish.

    Belczak, 67, was “temporarily excluded” as head of the Troy parish in January 2013 by the archdiocese after the internal audit revealed questions about $429,000 in expenditures under his supervision. While not charged, Belczak, pastor for 30 years, was banned from celebrating Mass and was also ordered out of his church-provided lodgings...

    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...RO02/301130026

  13. #13
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    Fraud charges in condo purchase

    April 21, 2014 at 10:20 am

    FBI alleges fraud in Detroit-area priest's Florida condo purchase

    Associated Press

    Troy — Federal authorities are accusing a Detroit-area priest of fraud in the purchase of a condominium in Florida.

    The government filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court Monday to seize the Rev. Edward Belczak’s condo in Wellington. The FBI says the $110,000 down payment came from a bank account belonging to St. Thomas More parish in Troy...

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...condo-purchase

    http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/f...condo/25581604

  14. #14
    BetteDavisEyes's Avatar
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    Feds seek seizure of suspended Troy priest's Florida condo

    6:47 PM, April 21, 2014

    By Patricia Montemurri/Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

    The Rev. Edward Belczak fraudulently used $109,570.80 from a parish bank account to put a down payment on a swanky Palm Beach, Fla., condo, the FBI asserted in a federal court request Monday to seize the property.

    The forfeiture request says the six-figure down payment came from parish money diverted to the priest’s private accounts.

    Despite Monday’s court filing, Belczak, the suspended Catholic pastor of St. Thomas More parish in Troy, has not been formally charged with a crime...

    http://www.freep.com/article/2014042...lczak-Embezzle

  15. #15
    BetteDavisEyes's Avatar
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    Priest, church administrator charged with stealing from Troy church

    Edward Belczak, Janice Verschuren accused of taking almost $700,000 from St. Thomas More Church


    Published On: April 23 25 m Updated 1 m

    DETROIT -
    A Catholic priest and a parish administrator have been indicted for stealing almost $700,000 from St. Thomas More Church in Troy during an eight-year period, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced Wednesday.
    Charged are Edward Belczak, 69, of Troy, and Janice Verschuren, 67, of Bloomfield Hills.

    The five-count indictment alleges that between 2004 and 2012, Belczak and Verschuren stole money and diverted funds from the church and the Archdiocese of Detroit, then concealed their criminal acts by creating or verifying false financial reports that were submitted to the archdiocese. Charges in the indictment include mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy...

    http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/p...hurch/25618816

    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...om-Troy-parish

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