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.