Thou shalt not steal

Nov 23, 2012

Faith — it’s the cornerstone of nearly every religion and charity. Faith in humanity. Trust in each other.

That trust has been shattered in the Tri-Cities after a deacon and pastoral associate at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church was arraigned and accused of skimming from the collection plates more than $20,000.

He’d been employed by the church for 11 years. Church elders entrusted to him many ceremonial duties. His job, however, didn’t require the handling of money.

Yet, here he is facing charges for the second time in a decade. The prior, unrelated charge of theft was later dismissed.

No matter what comes of this new case, it will take quite some time for this community to reclaim an almost blind faith in one another.

And that, unfortunately, is a good thing.

As a forensic accounting firm executive, John Peters, said in a newsletter by the Church Mutual Insurance Co.: "Trust is nice. But ‘trust me' is not a good philosophy when it comes to financials."

Peters — like law enforcement officials and risk management executives around the country — sees this kind of white-collar crime every week, every month. It happens in churches, at charities, in government agencies and in social organizations. Everywhere.

"Good economy or bad economy, Thursday or Friday — it doesn't matter,” Peters wrote. “It happens all over the country, any time of the year or any year.”

These cases seem to have ratcheted up in recent years as the economy tanked. In fact, these types of crimes have jumped nearly 50 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to FBI statistics.

But this isn’t a new crime.

It could be that, as the purse strings tightened, agencies and congregations started paying more attention to the financials. Perhaps they’ve spotted white-collar crimes that persisted unnoticed for years.

Or perhaps these criminals — and, make no mistake, what they are doing is every bit as criminal as, and perhaps worse than, grabbing cash from a bank vault or gas station till — are becoming more desperate for money. Perhaps they’ve been emboldened by getting away with it for so long.

We must remain vigilant. We must ask uncomfortable questions of our co-workers and leaders.

And we must move forward. Just make sure to do so with one eye open.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

donna282

perhaps you should hold your holier than thou comments until the man has been convicted, arraigned and accused is not yet guilty and too many cases being tried on public sites. Let the courts do their job

Vladtheimp

Thou Shalt Not Steal - unless you are the government, you are stealing from those making $250,000 who have already been accused, arraigned, and convicted of not paying their fair share, + and your intentions are to be "fair."

Vladtheimp

Thou Shalt Not Steal - unless you are the government, you are stealing from those making $250,000 who have already been accused, arraigned, and convicted of not paying their fair share, + and your intentions are to be "fair."

43°North

You live around here, so you are not in that group, so you are advocating for these poor people who make over $250,000/yr? Couldn't be more of a troll if you tried, you are so off subject. Someone's trust in their church should go maybe a little further than their trust in your government?

Vladtheimp

I'm supporting the Tribune's headline and advocating on behalf of the commandment "Thou Shall Not Steal." How is that off subject unless you agree that some theft is prohibited and some is OK, depending on the identity of the thief and the victim of the theft? I would hope that we would be able to place our trust in both our fellow citizens, our church, and our government, but I guess that is beyond your comprehension.

43°North

you're a troll who can't stay on subject and tosses in his own skewed political agenda, we ALL comprehend that.

itsgettingold

So you are calling yourself a thief?

LessThanAmused

Dude....just say no to feeding the trolls. It doesn't matter what the topic is, his only string to play on is a political one.

LessThanAmused

Gibberish, again.

LessThanAmused

Gibberish.

LessThanAmused

Sorry for the confusion, obviously the threading function of the new forum needs some work as my comments aren't where they were suppose to be. Until the edit function is returned and stuff like this fixed it's pretty much useless to post here, so I'm taking a break until someone in charge acts like they're in charge. Nitey nite.

Wingmaster

Looks like the room is going to clean up...I may come back!

dyankee

Vladteimp: "3" 43-N "0" LTA "AWOL" Most I've smiled since the election...except on Nov. 15th. Thanks Valdster!

zwesterhouse

The Bible is accurate. It has had prophecies come true throughout history. It also tells the future of people fates. Two races on Earth from the perspectives in the Bible. One is Adam the other is Christ's who have been forgiven. The Bible says those in Adam or with no forgiveness or no evidence of genuine repentance will suffer various degrees of torment in eternity in the Lake of Fire. Those in Christ will have eternal life but the rewards for living and decisions will be handed out. Some will be more blessed than others in Heaven. From the pages of the Bible God is all powerful. Thats hard to grasp. Speaking billions of galaxies across the known universe into existence. Bring technologically advanced ancient Egypt to its knees with Pharaoh's corpse floating in the Nile. All thats left is dilapidated pyramids that we still cannot build today if our lives depended on it. Moral of the story is - You, I and your neighbor aren't getting away with a single thing. We will appear before an all powerful God - personally, no lawyers, no unions, no constitution. The Bible says the devil will prosecute people and accuse them of everything they did wrong. So be careful on condemning the man - when you do - your acting like Lucifer.

itsgettingold

Is anyone else sick of the Tribune "beating a dead horse." It seems on almost any story that is controversial the tribune first runs the story, then feels it necessary to weigh in with an opinion on an already over exposed story. The Tribune should be ashamed, especially after the editorial teaching us all that suicides can be avoided if you keep business and family matters separate! Notice they disabled comments on that one? The editorial staff should be ashamed of the way they exploit others for their own benefit.

rajaju

Why is Meekoff sponsering a bill to allow wolf hunting in Michigan, on the taxpayers dime,when a MSU study shows the people are against it 80-20,this is all being done under the radar,already passed the senate and goes before the house on tuesday,does this area have a wolf problem????? So to steal a little from the church is socially acceptable when you do't tell everything right??????

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