United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri

07/09/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/09/2024 14:58

Priest Pleads Guilty to Sending His Sister $100,000 in Stolen Church Funds

Press Release

Priest Pleads Guilty to Sending His Sister $100,000 in Stolen Church Funds

Tuesday, July 9, 2024
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri
Also Admits to Writing Himself a $200,000 Check from Church Account

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A retired priest in Jefferson City, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to sending his sister a $100,000 check stolen from a Wardsville, Mo., church and admitted to writing himself a $200,000 check from the church account.

The Rev. Ignazio C. Medina, 72, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to a federal information that charges him with transporting stolen property across state lines.

Medina, a Catholic priest, was pastor at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Wardsville, Mo., from 2013 to 2021. Some financial irregularities arose at St. Stanislaus in 2018, and the diocese determined that the parish had a bank account that was not previously reported on the budget or annual report. Medina was asked to include this bank account in the parish's annual report, and in 2020 he reported an account balance of about $358,000.

After Medina was transferred to a different parish in 2021, it was discovered that he had emptied that bank account. On June 10, 2021, Medina had written a $100,000 check to his sister in Tucson, Arizona. The next day, he had also written a $200,000 check payable to himself. Some expenditures from the account appeared to be church-related.

Medina, when confronted, claimed the bank account was funded by donations that were not intended for the parish itself, but rather were intended for his own discretionary use. Donors who had contributed checks deposited into the bank account contradicted Medina's statement. Several individuals told investigators the checks they wrote to St. Stanislaus were intended for parish purposes, not for Medina's own discretionary use, and that they never had any conversations with Medina authorizing a different use of the funds. One donor told investigators he intended his donation to be used in the school in memory of a deceased friend.

Medina also claimed he was refunding donations and that his sister in Tucson was one of the donors. In fact, his sister was not a source of donations to the account, and told investigators that Medina told her the money he sent was to care for their ailing mother.

Under federal statutes, Medina is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Kummerer. It was investigated by the FBI.

Updated July 9, 2024