In a moment reminiscent of the William Jefferson freezer cash seizure, police in Williamston (Michigan) have reported the discovery of $63,392 in cash during a second search of the home of Rev. Jonathan Wehrle. He is a Catholic priest charged with embezzling more than $5 million from an Okemos parish. To make matters worse for Wehrle, the cash was still in bundles of $2000 with paper bands reading “For deposit only – St. Martha Parish and School.” There is a time to pray and a time to plea. This would be the latter.What is astonishing is that Wehrle was openly living in a lavish 11,000-square-foot mansion. Pictures of the estate can be seen here. A rather conspicuous abode for someone making roughly $40,000 a year with a vow of poverty.
The bundles were composed of $20 bills. So far, more than $1.1 million in assets has been seized by police.
Wehrle will stand trial on six felony counts of embezzlement starting on August 13th.
Wehrle is now trying to raise money for his defense to the tune of $300,000, but his counsel Lawrence Nolan has said that he will be withdrawing as counsel.
The abuse of his position and a charity would be an obvious “trust” aggravator in sentencing if he were convicted. His expenses reportedly included $45,000 for an indoor pool and nearly $55,000 for stained glass windows. Then there was the more than $134,000 on landscaping at his 10-acre estate in Williamston and other properties. The lesson here may be that you cannot serve your God and mansion.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other,Ye cannot serve God and mammon.