Two American Catholic priests, in Michigan and in Kansas, faced charges on September 2 for allegedly misappropriating funds.
In Michigan, Father Edward Belczak entered a guilty plea on mail-fraud charges, and agreed to return $573,000 that he had taken from a parish in Troy. He faces a prison sentence of about three years. Father Belczak admitted that he had falsified parish financial records, after he opened a private bank account in his own name with funds that had been bequeathed to the parish. “I always thought the money was for me,” he claimed of a large sum left in a widow’s will.
In Kansas, Father Thomas Leland is accused of bank fraud, after reportedly admitting that he used over $150,000 from two parishes in the Wichita diocese to finance a gambling habit. A diocesan spokesman said that Father Leland had been immediately removed from his parish after he “self-reported” his conduct, and will not return to ministry.