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Pennsylvania priest accused of stealing $385K from church

The former priest of a rural Pennsylvania Catholic church was arrested on Nov. 1 on suspicion of embezzling nearly $385,000 from the church's accounts. Authorities claim the priest confessed to taking the money. The arrest came after police investigated the claims of white collar crime for more than a year.

The accused man, was the parish priest of Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Bonneauville from 2006 to 2011. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg took him out of the church as part of a routine transfer. The new priest reportedly found what a diocese spokesman described as irregularities in the church's finances and contacted his superiors, which in turn called the Pennsylvania State Police.

Investigators claim that about $312,000 from church bank and investment accounts was transferred into accounts in the accused priest's name. They also accuse the priest of making $72,766.81 in unauthorized charges on church credit cards.

After months of investigation, the State Police arrested the suspect on Nov. 1 on three counts of felony theft. The police maintain that the priest confessed to taking the money during an interrogation, though it is not clear whether that questioning session took place before or after the arrest.

It is also not clear whether he has hired an attorney, according to ABC News. In general, when police want to interrogate you after arresting you it is important to invoke your right to remain silent until you have the chance to speak to a defense attorney. This is because officers are often skilled at getting defendants to "confess" to crimes they did not commit.

Source: ABC News, "Pa. Priest Slapped With Embezzlement Charge," Joshua Gardner, Nov. 4, 2012

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