Retired Jefferson City priest pleads guilty to embezzling $300,000 from church

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A retired priest in Jefferson City, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling $300,000 from St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Wardsville, Mo., and admitted to sending a $100,000 check stolen from the church to his sister. The Rev. Ignazio C. Medina, 72, also admitted to writing himself a $200,000 check from the church account.

Medina waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to a federal information that charges him with transporting stolen property across state lines.

Medina, who served as pastor at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church from 2013 to 2021, was found to have financial irregularities in 2018. The diocese discovered a previously unreported bank account, which Medina was asked to include in the parish’s annual report. In 2020, Medina reported the account balance as approximately $358,000.

After Medina’s transfer to a different parish in 2021, it was revealed that he had depleted the account. On June 10, 2021, he wrote a $100,000 check to his sister in Tucson, Arizona, followed by a $200,000 check to himself the next day. While some expenditures appeared church-related, the significant withdrawals raised concerns.

When confronted, Medina claimed the bank account was funded by donations meant for his discretionary use, not for the parish. However, donors who had contributed to the account disputed this, stating their donations were intended for parish purposes. They affirmed having no discussions with Medina about alternative uses of their funds. One donor specified his donation was intended for the school in memory of a deceased friend.

Medina also claimed he was refunding donations, including the $100,000 to his sister. However, his sister confirmed she was not a donor and that the money was for their ailing mother.

Medina faces up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The actual sentencing will be determined by the court based on advisory guidelines and statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Kummerer is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.

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