Menu Close

UPDATED: Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest David Fisher Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Stealing $450,000

busted

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2017, David Fisher, former pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso, Michigan was accused of stealing $450,000 from his parish. M Live reported:

A Catholic church in Shiawassee County is reeling after it was discovered the former pastor there is accused of stealing nearly $500,000.

The Rev. David Fisher was in charge of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso for 23 years and retired to North Dakota in June 2015.

A new pastor was brought in and noticed some figures were off with the parish’s finances, according to Michael Diebold, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Lansing.

“They started seeing some anomalies,” Diebold said. “It became obvious real soon that there was something amiss.”

The Diocese contacted the Michigan State Police and it was recommended a forensic audit, Diebold said.

The audit revealed there was $450,000 missing, according to Diebold.

Fisher was arrested in North Dakota on suspicion of seven counts of embezzlement, Michigan State Police Detective/Sgt. Mark Pendergraff said.

The investigation into the suspected thefts can only go back six years due to the statute of limitations, according to Pendergraff.

Fisher was charged with a count of embezzlement of over $100,000 from a charitable organization and the other six counts of for alleged embezzlement of lesser amounts, Pendergraff said.

Church secretary Nancy DeFrenn also was arrested, according to Pendergraff. She is charged with a single count of embezzlement from a charitable organization of more than $1,000 but less than $20,000.

“We didn’t give out specifically what they were using the money for, but they converted it for personal use — things like paying bills and other things,” Pendergraff said.

Fisher is fighting extradition back to Michigan, according to Pendergraff. A hearing on the extradition is set for March 29.

In September 2017, Fisher was found guilty and sentenced to a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

The Lansing Journal reported:

A retired priest has been sentenced to at least five years in prison for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a Michigan church.

The Rev. David Fisher was pastor for 23 years at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso, 90 miles northwest of Detroit. He was sentenced Friday and ordered to repay $127,000.

Fisher retired in 2015 and moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota. He’ll be eligible for parole after five years in prison. His maximum sentence is 15 years in prison.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

1 Comment

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away! If You Are a First Time Commenter, Please Read the Comment Policy Located at the Top of the Page.

Bruce Gerencser