A Lansing-area priest accused of embezzling more than $5 million from his church is trying to raise $300,000 for his defense just weeks before trial.

A group called Opus Bono has sent a letter on behalf of the Rev. Jonathan Wehrle. The letter says he's in "dire need."

Wehrle is charged with six counts of embezzling $100,000 or more from St. Martha Church in Okemos.

He lived at a property worth more than $1 million in Williamston.

Trial is scheduled for Aug. 13. Joe Maher, Opus Bono's president, says he doesn't believe there was "criminal intent" by Wehrle.

A mid-Michigan woman who authorities say embezzled more than $400,000 from her disabled 9-year-old son's estate faces prison after entering a plea to resolve the case. The Lansing State Journal reports 32-year-old Kasie Pruden-Rivera of Eaton County is scheduled for sentencing June 28 after pleading no contest to one count of embezzling more than $100,000.

The plea isn't an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing. Eaton County Prosecutor Doug Lloyd says based on a lack of previous convictions her sentencing guidelines will likely top out at 20 months.

Michigan priest to stand trial in church embezzlement case

Jun 20, 2017

A priest from southwestern Michigan charged with embezzling more than $100,000 in church funds has been ordered to stand trial. Richard Fritz' case has been bound over to St. Joseph County Circuit Court. A preliminary examination had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Fritz was arraigned in April. He served as a priest in the Diocese of Kalamazoo for 35 years before resigning last year following an investigation into inappropriate use of church funds between 2010 and 2016.

Priest near Lansing on leave amid embezzlement probe

May 10, 2017

Another Roman Catholic church in Michigan is dealing with an embezzlement investigation. Officials say the pastor of St. Martha Church in Okemos, near Lansing, has been placed on leave. The Rev. Jonathan Wehrle (WUR'-lee) already planned to retire at the end of June. The Catholic Diocese of Lansing said Wednesday that auditors uncovered a "possible significant embezzlement" at St. Martha. 

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A suspended western Michigan school teacher has been arraigned on an embezzlement charge for allegedly pawning more than $28,000 in computers and overhead projectors stolen from his school over 5 1/2 years. 

Thirty-eight-year-old Anthony J. Marsiglia of Grand Rapids was freed on bond following his court appearance Wednesday.

Kent County Sheriff's Deputy William Marks wrote in an arrest affidavit that after officers confronted Marsiglia, he admitting stealing and pawning the equipment.

A former Michigan State Police trooper who allegedly pocketed more than $170,000 in vehicle fees has been sentenced to jail time.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office says 31-year-old Seth Swanson of Royal Oak learned his punishment on Tuesday in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac. Swanson in January pleaded guilty as charged to one felony count of embezzlement by a public official and one felony count of uttering and publishing false Secretary of State documents.

Picture of a State Trooper Vehicle
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A former Michigan State Police trooper is accused of embezzlement for allegedly pocketing over $170,000 in vehicle fees. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced felony charges Wednesday against 31-year-old Seth Swanson after an investigation into salvage vehicle inspections.

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A woman accused of stealing $208,000 from a school in western Michigan has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Kathleen Wilkie declined to speak in court before getting her sentence Tuesday in Muskegon County.

But her attorney, Joe Doele, says she acknowledges making a "huge mistake" and will repay the money.

Wilkie worked for 18 years at Western Michigan Christian High School in Norton Shores, near Muskegon.

Assistant prosecutor James Corbett says Wilkie's crime hurt the school and students.

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The former president of a motorcycle club who was accused of stealing money from a fundraiser for a Kalamazoo police officer who was killed while on duty in 2011 has been sentenced to five months in jail.

Fifty-five-year-old Joseph Weeks Sr. of Kalamazoo County's Comstock Township earlier pleaded no contest to embezzlement from a nonprofit.

A no contest plea isn't an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing.

Authorities say the former executive director of an ambulance service in southwestern Michigan misappropriated nearly $100,000 in funds from the nonprofit.

The Berrien County prosecutor's office announced Tuesday that 49-year-old Timothy Gray of Clermont, Florida, is charged with embezzlement of $50,000 to $100,000.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment Tuesday with a lawyer for Gray.

He's free on bond and is due back in court in Niles later this month.