Priest near Lansing on leave amid embezzlement probe

OKEMOS, Mich. (AP) – Another Roman Catholic church in Michigan is dealing with an embezzlement investigation.

Officials say the pastor of St. Martha Church in Okemos has been placed on leave. The Rev. Jonathan Wehrle already planned to retire at the end of June.

The Catholic Diocese of Lansing said Wednesday that auditors uncovered a “possible significant embezzlement” at St. Martha.

Meanwhile, in St. Joseph County in southwestern Michigan, the Rev. Richard Fritz is charged with stealing more than $100,000. He liked to buy lottery tickets.

The Rev. David Fisher is charged with embezzlement from St. Joseph Church in Owosso in Shiawassee County. Diocese officials say $450,000 is missing.

In 2015, the Rev. Ed Belczak was sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing more than $500,000 from a Detroit-area church.

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