84-year-old man must pay $183K in restitution after embezzlement from Farmington Hills church

Edgar Zarins allegedly embezzled $167,000

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – An 84-year-old man is due in court Thursday morning to be sentenced on embezzlement charges after funds went missing from the coffers of a church in Farmington Hills.

Edgar Zarins was the treasurer of St. Paul's Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church. He pleaded no contest to embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000.

Zarins was sentenced to five years probation and must pay $183,290.77 restitution to the church.

"We had an audit and discovered things were not right," said Mara Bitte, a church board member.

The small church has about 100 members. A number of parishioners spoke at the sentencing hearing.

The judge was worried about an elderly man paying such a high amount in restitution and how he was planning to pay the church back. Zarins' attorney told the court he would sell his home, which has about $40,000 equity, and would pay $500 every month. He receives a pension from General Motors and Social Security.

When asked where all the money went, Zarins' attorney told the court it all went towards daily personal expenses, like grocery shopping.

“I thought I could replace it,” Zarins said.

Zarins will turn 85 in two weeks.

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