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Closings, Cancellations and Delays


Former priest had a history of stealing from church coffers


News Staff - March 4, 2020

RAPID CITY, SD - The trial of 41-year old Marcin Garbacz, a former Catholic priest who's accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from church collections, has begun in federal court.

As part of the trial that opened Tuesday, the former bishop of the Rapid City Catholic Diocese testified that the former Rapid City priest admitted to him that he had stolen from the church collections.

Bishop Robert Gruss, who is now the bishop of Saginaw, Mich., testified that Garbacz initially denied stealing from the church collection bags but admitted to it to him, saying he stole at most $500 when confronted with surveillance video.

That video was also played for the jury.

Garbacz is facing 65 federal charges including wire fraud, money laundering, transportation of stolen money and filing a false tax return.

Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Patterson described the amounts Garbacz deposited in his bank account as astounding. He is charged with stealing more than $150,000 from the Rapid City Catholic Diocese over the course of six years.

Presented as witnesses were several local priests who testified they questioned how Garbacz was able to purchase expensive items for himself, including religious articles, artwork and cars.

Defense attorney Jennifer Albertson asked whether prosecutors could prove that all of the cash was stolen. She also related to jurors that financial records managed by others in the church were allegedly not well maintained.

Before his time at the Diocese of Rapid City, Garbacz worked at the St. Joseph parish in Faith, but was removed in part because of his financial mismanagement of the parish. Before his removal in 2012, an audit conducted by the Diocese found St. Joseph’s accounting records were in poor condition.

During his residence in Rapid City, Garbacz had access to cash collections at several parishes, including Blessed Sacrament, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church.

In 2018, Garbacz was caught stealing roughly $620 from Saint Therese Church. He was ordered to a treatment center in St. Louis, MO by the bishop who later testified against him. However, he left the center early without permission and moved to Washington state.

He was brought back to South Dakota for trial. Garbacz faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

RAPID CITY, SD - The trial of 41-year old Marcin Garbacz, a former Catholic priest who's accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from church collections, has begun in federal court.

As part of the trial that opened Tuesday, the former bishop of the Rapid City Catholic Diocese testified that the former Rapid City priest admitted to him that he had stolen from the church collections.

Bishop Robert Gruss, who is now the bishop of Saginaw, Mich., testified that Garbacz initially denied stealing from the church collection bags but admitted to it to him, saying he stole at most $500 when confronted with surveillance video.

That video was also played for the jury.

Garbacz is facing 65 federal charges including wire fraud, money laundering, transportation of stolen money and filing a false tax return.

Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Patterson described the amounts Garbacz deposited in his bank account as astounding. He is charged with stealing more than $150,000 from the Rapid City Catholic Diocese over the course of six years.

Presented as witnesses were several local priests who testified they questioned how Garbacz was able to purchase expensive items for himself, including religious articles, artwork and cars.

Defense attorney Jennifer Albertson asked whether prosecutors could prove that all of the cash was stolen. She also related to jurors that financial records managed by others in the church were allegedly not well maintained.

Before his time at the Diocese of Rapid City, Garbacz worked at the St. Joseph parish in Faith, but was removed in part because of his financial mismanagement of the parish. Before his removal in 2012, an audit conducted by the Diocese found St. Joseph’s accounting records were in poor condition.

During his residence in Rapid City, Garbacz had access to cash collections at several parishes, including Blessed Sacrament, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church.

In 2018, Garbacz was caught stealing roughly $620 from Saint Therese Church. He was ordered to a treatment center in St. Louis, MO by the bishop who later testified against him. However, he left the center early without permission and moved to Washington state.

He was brought back to South Dakota for trial. Garbacz faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.



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