Car crash reveals that Santa Rosa priest embezzled $95,000

Catholic News Agency | 7/22/2019 | Staff
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Santa Rosa, Calif., Jul 22, 2019 / 11:05 am (CNA).- When EMTs rushed to the scene of a Santa Rosa car accident June 19, they found Fr. Oscar Diaz, a local pastor, stuck in the car with a broken hip and other injuries. They also found $18,305.86, in cash.

Diaz told police the money was his salary. It wasn’t.

Money - Santa - Rosa - Resurrection - Parish

The money belonged to Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Parish, where Diaz is pastor. Diaz was attempting to steal it. A subsequent investigation found that Diaz had in his office and home collection bags from Resurrection Parish, totaling more than $95,000.

The priest has now been suspended from ministry, the Diocese of Santa Rosa announced July 22, and he has been the subject of a police investigation.

Evidence - Money - Variety - Ways - Parishes

“There is also evidence that money was stolen in a variety of ways from each of the parishes where he had served as pastor. I am deeply grieved that this has happened and am deeply saddened that the parishes he was sent to serve have been harmed,” Bishop Robert F. Vasa wrote in his July 22 press release.

“The full extent of the theft is not known and may never be fully known but the Diocese is committed to determining as fully as possible the extent of the theft from each of these parishes. Once such determinations are made it is the goal of the Diocese to make restitution to the parishes.”

Vasa - Santa - Rosa - Police - Protocols

Vasa added that the Santa Rosa “police determined that the protocols surrounding collection accounting would make it difficult to arrive at sufficient proof of theft to pursue criminal prosecution.”

In addition to its July 22 statement, the Diocese of Santa Rosa posted on its website a July 19 memo from Vasa to priests of the diocese, offering further details on the embezzlement.

Diaz - Theft - Memo

Diaz, 56, admitted the theft, according to the memo, and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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