Tag Archives: Fr. Edward Belczak

Exclusive: Catholic pastor in Troy, Michigan, bought $500,000 Florida condo from his church manager

I obtained and reviewed documents from Florida that show Fr. Edward Belczak of St. Thomas More parish in Troy, Michigan, bought on March 28, 2005, a half-million home from his longtime parish manager, Janice Verschuren. Both have now been removed amid an embezzlement investigation.

Detroit Free Press: “The charismatic Catholic pastor removed last week from his parish in Troy amid an embezzlement investigation bought a half-million-dollar condo in Florida from his longtime church administrator, the Free Press has learned.”

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Fr. Belczak story

Hi, If you would like to comment or share thoughts about Fr. Edward Belczak of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Troy, Michigan, please contact me anytime at nwarikoo@freepress.com, 313-223-4792, or Twitter.com/nwarikoo. Thank you.

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January 26, 2013 · 11:12 am

Embezzlement investigation of Troy pastor Rev. Edward Belczak surprises those who knew him

Troy priest embezzlement investigation shocks community

By Niraj Warikoo and Patricia Montemurri

Detroit Free Press Staff Writers

Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013

To those who know him, the Rev. Edward Belczak of St. Thomas More church in Troy is a gregarious pastor who helped grow his parish into one of the biggest Catholic congregations in Oakland County with his charisma and sense of humor. His homilies are so entertaining that some people attend his church just because of him.

“He was well-respected and well-loved,” said the Rev. Chris Yaw, a former Catholic who is rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield. “People wanted to be around him. … He was an outstanding pastor.”

That’s why many were surprised to learn that Belczak, 67, was removed this week from his parish as Troy Police and the Archdiocese of Detroit investigate whether he embezzled $429,000 in church funds to benefit himself and an unnamed ghost employee.

“I’m shocked and stunned,” Yaw said about the allegations.

That view was echoed Wednesday by others.

“We’re all pretty shocked and saddened,” said Mary Jane Doherty, who has been a member of St. Thomas More parish for 17 years. “It’s a very sad day for us. … We’re praying for him.”

The archdiocese disclosed Tuesday that Belczak has been “temporarily excluded from the office of pastor” after an audit discovered financial irregularities that included receiving excessive pay worth $92,000 and paying a ghost employee at least $240,000. The archdiocese — which oversees 1.3 million Catholics — did not say who the ghost employee is.

The audit was one of about a dozen it does per year, part of an effort started in 2009 by Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron “to better secure … finances,” archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said Wednesday.

Belczak, who is no longer allowed to reside at the parish that he led for 30 years, faces an administrative hearing that will be conducted by a priest from outside Michigan, McGrath said. The police investigation is separate.

Part of the embezzlement allegations involves the St. Thomas More Travel Group, which was a parish activity, though not a travel agency, McGrath said. On the church’s website, the travel group advertises upcoming trips to Israel and Russia.

“We offer opportunities to travel with both friends and fellow parishioners,” says the site for the travel group, which is part of the church website.

Belczak could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Officials at St. Thomas More either declined to comment or did not respond to calls and messages. Belczak’s brother, the Rev. Tom Belczak, a Catholic priest at St. Kenneth in Plymouth, also could not be reached for comment.

Marion McDonough, 65, of Troy has been a member of St. Thomas More since her teens, and her parents were founding members of the parish, established in 1963.

“His method of preaching is very entertaining,” said McDonough. “He tells a lot of jokes.”

Yaw co-led a funeral service with Belczak a few years ago, finding him great to work with. When he was a Catholic, Yaw had attended some of Belczak’s services.

Belczak “was like Johnny Carson,” Yaw said. “He was charismatic.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com

More Details: Other cases

Recent cases of alleged embezzlement at churches in Michigan:

• November: Joseph Finnigan, former deacon at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grand Haven, charged with embezzlement between $20,000 and $50,000.

• August: Pastor Etheridge Henry Moore of Heritage Baptist Church in Gaines Township admits embezzling more than $100,000 from his church.

• April: A Wayne County judge orders Kathleen Galoch of Canton to pay restitution within four months for embezzling $13,169 from St. Theodore Catholic Church in Westland, where she worked from 1986 to 2011.

• February: Reuben Bynum arraigned on charges that he embezzled more than $600,000 from Trinity Baptist Church in Pontiac, where he had worked as a financial officer.

• December 2011: The Rev. Arthur Pearson Sr. of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids accused by prosecutors of embezzling $50,000-$100,000.

 

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Detroit Archdiocese removes Troy pastor Rev. Belczak as police and archdiocese investigate alleged $429,000 embezzlement

Rev. Belczak was removed from St. Thomas More church in Troy, Michigan for alleged embezzlement

Detroit Archdiocese removes Troy pastor as police and archdiocese investigate alleged $429,000 embezzlement

By Niraj Warikoo

Free Press Staff Writer

Published: Jan. 22, 2013

Police are investigating whether the longtime pastor of a Catholic church in Troy might have embezzled or mismanaged more than $400,000, the Detroit Archdiocese said Tuesday.

The archdiocese removed the Rev. Edward Belczak, 67, the pastor at St. Thomas More Parish for almost 30 years, saying he may have misappropriated $429,000, using that money to pad his salary and pay a ghost employee. Troy police are currently conducting their own investigation into the allegations.

“Parish staff, council and committees were informed today” about Belczak’s removal, Ned McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese, told the Free Press.

In a statement, the archdiocese – which oversees 1.3 million Catholics in metro Detroit – said that an audit discovered “questionable financial transactions and practices” at St. Thomas More.

Established in 1963, St. Thomas More has grown to become one of the bigger churches in Oakland County, with about 2,500 families.

Effective Tuesday, Belczak has been “temporarily excluded from the office of pastor, meaning he cannot function as the parish’s pastor until an administrative review process is completed,” the statement said. The pastor also is barred from living in residence at the parish.

“The archdiocese has fully cooperated with civil authorities in this case and will continue to do so,” the statement said.

Belczak, who will remain a priest for now, could not be reached for comment.

Msgr. John Zenz, pastor of Holy Name Parish in Birmingham and episcopal vicar of the Northwest Region, was named administrator of St. Thomas More.

Belczak is accused of:

– Receiving excessive compensation worth $92,000.

– Directing money to himself worth $16,000 that should have been posted to parish accounts.

– Paying a ghost employee $240,000 over the past six years.

– Accepting $25,000 in residual commission checks to the St. Thomas More Travel Group that should have been deposited or recorded in parish accounts.

– Not disclosing or recording the financial transactions of the St. Thomas More Travel Group.

– Failing to deposit or record monies received through Mother’s Day and Father’s Day special collections.

– Not monitoring $10,000 in cash, which was found in an employee’s desk.

– Providing improper medical and dental coverage for an individual worth $26,000 during the past six years.

– Authorizing a long-term disability policy for an employee while not providing it to others, costing $20,000.

Educated at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Belczak was ordained in 1972. He served as associate pastor at National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak in 1972-75, and then co-pastor at the church in 1975-80.

He was associate pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington in 1980-84.

In 1984, he became pastor at St. Thomas More.

Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com or 313-223-4792

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