UPDATE: Wis. Priest Pleads Guilty to Theft Charges

UPDATED Wednesday, February 23, 2011 --- 3:20 p.m.

Wis. priest sentenced for stealing church funds

JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) -- A former Watertown priest has apologized to his congregation at his sentencing for stealing church funds and defrauding parishioners.

The Rev. Thomas Marr says he hurt people "terribly, though totally unintentionally."

The 66-year-old Marr was spared prison Tuesday after pleading guilty in December to theft in a business setting and theft by fraud. But he was ordered to serve at least three months in a county jail as part of a seven-year probation. After three months, he can apply for electronic monitoring.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Marr also must pay restitution of more than $134,000 to 17 households, as well as restitution to his former church.

Marr led St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Watertown for 24 years. Prosecutors say Marr solicited money from parishioners by telling them he needed it for those in need. Instead he invested the money with a church member, who claimed the money would help release millions of dollars from Nigeria.

The Wisconsin State Journal report can be found at:
http://bit.ly/eiYIKq

Information from:
Wisconsin State Journal
http://www.madison.com/wsj

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, December 7, 2010 --- 3:52 p.m.

WATERTOWN, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin priest accused of stealing church funds and tricking parishioners into giving him money has pleaded guilty to theft charges.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says a judge in Jefferson County on Tuesday accepted the Rev. Thomas Marr's guilty pleas to theft in a business setting and theft by fraud.

Marr served as a priest for a Watertown area parish. Prosecutors say Marr solicited money from parishioners by telling them he needed it for those in need. Instead he invested the money with a church member, who claimed the money would help release millions of dollars from Nigeria.

Marr faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count. A presentence investigation will be conducted.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 29, 2010 --- 10:15 a.m.

WATERTOWN, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin priest is accused of stealing church funds and tricking parishioners into giving him money.

A criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County charges the 65-year-old Rev. Thomas Marr with theft in a business setting and theft by fraud.

Prosecutors say Marr solicited money from parishioners by telling them he needed it for those in need. Instead he invested the money with church member Arthur Eith, who claimed the money would help release millions of dollars from Nigeria.

The State Journal says Marr is accused of persuading 21 church families to give him a total of nearly $164,000.

In a search warrant related to the case, Marr estimated he'd given Eith $613,000.

Information from:
Wisconsin State Journal
http://www.madison.com/wsj

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 --- 3:09p.m.

WATERTOWN - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that on September 28, 2010, attorneys for the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), acting as special prosecutors for Jefferson County, filed a summons and criminal complaint in Jefferson County Circuit Court against Thomas Marr (age 64), now of Madison, Wisconsin, alleging a count of theft in a business setting and a count of theft by fraud.

The maximum possible penalty for theft is a term of imprisonment not to exceed 10 years or a $10,000 fine, or both, as to each count.

Thomas Marr’s initial appearance is scheduled for October 18, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in the Jefferson County Circuit Court, Jefferson, Wisconsin.

According to the criminal complaint, Thomas Marr served as a priest for a Watertown area parish. Between 2007-2009, the complaint alleges that Marr took money from various parish accounts. In addition, Marr also allegedly solicited funds from members of the parish, family members, other clergy, and friends, representing that Marr intended to use the funds to assist parish members in financial distress. Marr promised that he (Marr) would repay these people quickly. During this period, Marr provided the funds he obtained from the parish and others to assist a second person in recovering money that the second person claimed was owed him from an overseas business transaction.

The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Watertown Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation. Assistant Attorney General Donald V. Latorraca represents the state.