Tuesday , June 25 2024

Tulare Priest Arrested, Charged With Grand Theft

<div class="StoryBlock">
<p>A priest in Tulare has been charged with two felony counts of grand theft.</p><p>Wednesday, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office filed those charges and arrested Father Ignacio Villafan for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000.</p><p>&quot;He was the one that would write the checks for the church at St. Rita’s, and in that capacity was using the money for his own personal use,&quot; said Anthony Fultz, assistant district attorney in Tulare County.</p><p>Villafan had been embezzling money for the last six years, according to Fultz.</p><p>Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno were made aware of discrepancies in their accounting about three years ago, said Teresa Dominguez, Chancellor at the Diocese of Fresno.</p><p>&quot;So the Diocese looked into the concern through our process then realized that information needed to be reported to the police department for an investigation,&quot; Dominguez said.</p><p>The district attorney’s office has&nbsp;quite a bit of information about how Villafan allegedly used this stolen money, Fultz said, but they aren’t giving those details now.</p><p>Parishioners were surprised to learn about the charges. Kimberly Canada has been attending St. Rita’s Church since she was born.</p><p>&quot;If he did it, it’s a shame, and if he didn’t, well that’s good. I just have&nbsp;to say he was a supportive priest to parishioners,&quot; Canada said.</p><p>Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of the Diocese of Fresno released a statement that read, &quot;We must be good stewards; accountable for the gifts and resources that are faithfully offered to the church to accomplish the mission of Christ in our midst. My concern and prayerful support for all impacted by this particular situation continues.”</p><p>Villafan served as a priest at St. Rita’s since 2005 but was removed of his administrative role immediately when the investigation began. He continued to serve in a pastoral capacity on a limited basis, according to Dominguez.</p><p>Villafan is being held at the Tulare County Jail on a bail of $50,000 and is expected in court Friday.<br /></p></div>

About NewsPress

Dedicated to going around town and getting in everyone's business!

Check Also

For agriculture, a changing climate brings challenges—but also opportunities

In many ways, climate change has already hit home here in the San Joaquin Valley—especially …

Wanna Comment?

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply