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Catholic Priest Accused Of Taking $380K From Pa. Parish

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File photo of a Roman Catholic church. (credit: JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a Roman Catholic church. (credit: JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

BONNEAUVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A central Pennsylvania priest faces charges he stole more than $380,000 from his parish.

Investigator says 52-year-old Father Caesar Belchez transferred more than $190,000 from various accounts at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Bonneauville to an online stock account and more than $120,000 to a personal account.

The alleged misuse of funds extends to unauthorized credit card charges and church checks made out to Belchez.

Authorities in Adams County say the fraud was discovered by Belchez’s successor when he left the church during a regular assignment change.

Belchez was charged last week with two counts of theft and access device fraud. A phone listing for him could not be located Monday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg says Belchez has been barred from celebrating Mass and other priestly duties.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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