TROY, Mich. - The priest of a church in Troy has temporarily stepped aside in the wake of an embezzlement investigation.
The Archdiocese of Detroit said the Rev. Edward Belczak of the St. Thomas More Parish was temporarily excluded from his post on Tuesday.
Belczak was trusted and liked by parishioners, and now he is accused of stealing money from those that trusted him.
The church is one of the biggest Catholic parishes in Oakland County.
Some of the parishioner can't believe the accusations against Belczak.
"A terrible shock and I totally do not believe it," said Marie Liposky a parishioner at St. Thomas More. "The church is filled because of him."
Both the Archdiocese and the Troy Police Department are conducting separate investigations into a slew of alleged misappropriation and mismanagement by Belczak.
"I wouldn't consider him as running a business and that's I think, what running a parish is, it's running a business. I don't think in anyway he is a business man, he's a humanitarian," said parishioner Don Liposky.
The charges against Belczak include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Maintaining improper medical/dental insurance coverage for an individual, estimating a loss of approximately $26,000 to the parish over the past six years.
- 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.
- Allowing for the operation of the St. Thomas More Travel Group as a parish-related activity, while none of the financial transactions, records or bank accounts were disclosed for financial reporting or official purposes.
- Accepting, but not depositing or recording in parish accounts, residual commission checks to the St. Thomas More Travel Group, estimating a loss of $25,000 to the parish over the past six years.
- Failing to record or deposit monies received through the Mother's Day and Father's Day special collections according to archdiocesan policies; failing to monitor currency in an amount over $10,000, found in an employee's office desk.
Monsignor John Zenz, episcopal vicar of the Northwest Region and pastor of Holy Name Parish, Birmingham, has been named administrator of St. Thomas More Parish.
About the Rev. Edward Belczak
Education: Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, and St. John's Provincial Seminary, Plymouth
Ordained: Sept. 3, 1972
1972-1975: Associate Pastor, National Shrine of the Little Flower Parish, Royal Oak
1975-1980: Co-pastor, National Shrine of the Little Flower Parish, Royal Oak
1980-1984: Associate Pastor, Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Farmington
1984-2013: Pastor of St. Thomas More Parish, Troy
2013: Temporarily excluded from the office of pastor, St. Thomas More Parish
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