Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Feds Accuses Jackson Catholic Diocese of Covering Up Priest's Fraud

The Department of Homeland Security claimed the Catholic Diocese of Jackson covered up a scheme by a Starkville priest that bilked parishioners and the Church out of tens of thousands of dollars.  The allegations are part of an application for a search warrant that was unsealed recently in U.S. District Court.  The FBI obtained the warrant to search the premises of the Diocese and St. Joseph Parish.  The FBI also sought to seize records and various electronic devices. The priest raised money for his phony cancer treatments,  an orphanage, and a chapel in Mexico.

Special Agent William Childers submitted an affidavit to U.S. Magistrate Keith Ball on November 6.  He accused Father Lenin Vargas-Gutierrez of St. Joseph Parish of committing fraud while the Diocese of Jackson "concealed and did not as soon as possible make known" the crime to authorities.

Confidential informants and victims tipped off the DHS to the alleged fraud. Comrade Lenin was treated at the Oktibbeha County Hospital in for several days in 2014. He told one victim he had a "rare form of cancer: Walden Strom's macrglobulinemenia" (say that fast five times.). He said the Diocese was sending him to Canada for treatment due to the rare nature of the disease. He repeated this statement from the pulpit as well.

Two informants created a Gofundme account to cover his cancer expenses. 57 people donated $9,210 to Vargas. He claimed on the Gofundme narrative that the medical bills were high. However, the informants said the Diocese's insurance "covers everything", including the Comrade's medical expenses.

However, the gig was up when one informant learned that Vargas didn't have cancer but HIV. The informant sent the information to Bishop Kopacz. Hospital records show that he had pneumonia and was tested for HIV.

Comrade Lenin did go to Canada but of course, not for cancer treatment. He went to a facility that specialized in treating clergy for sexual addiction. The affidavit states the Diocese continued to cover for its dear Comrade. The Vicar General of the Diocese forwarded an email from Vargas that stated he was treated for what seemed to be pneumonia but was found to be lymphoplasmascytic lymphoma. He said the treatment caused him to develop diabetes. He said he would be gone for a few months.

However, the email sad nothing about cancer treatments although he continued to raise money for said treatments. The informants allege the Diocese leadership knew the email was not true yet sent it anyway.

Thousands of dollars were donated to Vargas for his phony cancer treatments. The affidavit claim that $8,476 in donations were withdrawn by Vargas. He also received a "Love Offering" of $2,300 from a Catholic church in Macon. Another $20,021 was deposited into his account in April and March of 2015. He spent the most of the funds on personal expenses and none on medical expenses. The Parish took up the giving spirit and donated $33,574 after receiving several contributions for his "treatment." He withdrew most of the money and spent none of it on medical expenses although he still said he had cancer. Fred Sanford would be proud.

However, the alleged fraud didn't end with the phony cancer story but instead suffered the little children as well. Vargas raised money to help Mexican orphanages. Sometimes he did so during Mass. One informant donated $5,000 after being wined and dined by Vargas on the Diocese dime. He also sought donations for a chapel in Mexico near the mountains. More thousands of dollars were donated to the Diocese for these bogus projects. The Diocese would then issue a check to the good Comrade.

The Bishop and Vicar General were told a year ago that Vargas was raising money for his cancer treatment and Mexican projects. Parish officials also told them "money was missing from the parish coffers." The officials investigated and discovered that Vargas was skyping daily with a man in Mexico who owned a bar named "Heaven and Hell." The bar opened this summer. The Bishop and Vicar General thanked the clergy for the information and then allegedly sat on it. The Vicar told one informant that he hoped Vargas did not return from his sabbatical.

Unfortunately, the affidavit claims that Vargas continued to solicit money "from parishioners, especially the vulnerable elderly" while "little was done by the Diocese of Jackson to protect parishioners."   These donations were made after the October 2017 meeting:

* $8,451 (9/21/17 - 10/20/17)
*$8,655 (10/21/17 - 11/20/17)
* $13,497 (2/17/18 - 3/21/18)
* $20,000 (6/13/18)

Comrade Lenin spent none of the money on the projects but all of it on himself.  Some of the money was spent for a membership on a dating website for people who suffer from STD's.

St. Joseph personnel also became aware that the wayward priest was stealing money from Sunday offerings. However, he became very angry and opposed placing a video camera in the room where the offerings were counted.

DHS seeks Diocese computer records as well.  The affidavit states that the Diocese and Parish should have records of the priest's cancer and HIV treatments.    There should also be records stating that Vargas did not have cancer as well as plans to repay the cancer donations.  DHS also sought various electronic devices used by Vargas, the Diocese, and the Parish. 


Anonymous said...

This is so disturbing. On so many levels. The Catholic Church really needs to reconsider the chastity requirement because it seems to create sexual deviancy.

Anonymous said...

Only thing worse than a laywer is a preacher, get them together and its even worse.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ! (Get it?)

This is pathetic. Honestly, what’s wrong with the Catholic Church..

Anonymous said...

You can bet that if it were an Oxford priest that there would be at least one commenter trying to tie it all to Ole Miss football.

Anonymous said...

One time Sister Aunt Hazel went to the beach but the Diocese didn't cover up nothing for her.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi - the most religious state in the union. Go figure.

The Roman Catholic church has been a criminal enterprise for centuries. When are you brainwashed mackeral snappers going to wake up and smell the truth? Maybe you can't handle the truth.

10:34 AM, just because someone is horny doesn't turn them into a pedophile. They are pedophiles when they enter the priesthood, just like with many (not all) youth pastors, youth coaches, etc.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church is a joke. It’s always some kind of cover up/perversion. It baffles me how that cult has so many members.

Anonymous said...

10:41, nah, the worst is an anonymous poster. they cast stones with impunity

Anonymous said...

Guys, calm down! In the thousands of years of Catholic Church history, this is hardly the worst thing that has happened. Just look it up on the internet!

Anonymous said...

I get the Catholic Church's dirt comes out quite often, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Problems of perversion, scandals, mismanagement exists in other denominations of Christianity as well. They cover theirs as well. Saying only the Catholic Church has these issues is turning a blind eye to the issues within other churches and being a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

The clerical collar has always been a refuge and mask for the most conniving predators in every society. The "wolf in sheep's clothing" is not confined to the Catholic Church. In truth, it is the Catholic Church who wrote the book on deception and subterfuge. Other denominations coming much later were able to shed the Catholic's most obvious baggage such as "clerical chastity' but they do much the same thing, and mostly get away with it. Catholic arrogance leads them to believe they can continue to play their centuries old sexual games in the age of social media and instant news, but they can no longer hide behind their cloak of church secrecy. The other denominations are just more modern in their thievery. It's like the old mafia vs corporate crime. Times change.

Anonymous said...

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been corrupt for centuries. The Pope is considered to be infallible, his word is law, and no earthly power is his equal. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is true now and it was true 3,000 years ago.

Anonymous said...

It's Homeland security, makes you wonder, is he funding the caravan out of Missippi.

Anonymous said...

Would you investigate why Fr. Maurice Nutt was brought here...the Bishop appears to want to surround himself with questionable characters (google Nutt and his alleged involvement in sex scandals in St. Louis). Wonder if Nutt is friends with vicar general Slattery?

Anonymous said...

Wow. The anti-Catholic sentiment is running heavy today! Sounds like the "tolerant" atheists and the old school bigots are feeling their oats.

So what's next gents...how the Jews are running the world?

You people are sad.

Anonymous said...

All religion is for the feeble minded and weak. Why the left has taken it over.

Anonymous said...

2:32 I cannot disagree that the Catholic Church has used it's secretive organization to harbor abuse. But it must be remembered that this is one of the oldest organizations known to man, predating most of the nations we consider historic, and the one thing people respect in an organization is consistency. This church has tried too hard to maintain a consistency with dogma and tradition established hundreds of years ago. Unlike new protestant faiths, the Catholic Church cannot reinvent itself for convenience or popularity. Also please be advised, the Pope is not considered to be always
infallible. His edicts concerning matters of faith, when he speaks specifically "ex cathedra" are the only times his words are considered infallible by Catholics. Please note.

Anonymous said...

Organized crime funded by the parishioners. Disgusting. Hopefully the perps will face justice in this world rather than the usual church cover-up.

Anonymous said...

tell me 10:41 .. does you disdain for members of the bar extend to the u s attorney who is gonna prosecute this pedophile?

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the feds will pursue rico charges against these thugs.

Anonymous said...

Does he know Lamar Adams??

Soon, I guess...

Anonymous said...

the good father really showed what a fraudster he was when he stated that the was "going to canada for cancer treatment". NO ONE goes to canada for medical treatment. their socialized medical system is a joke. to the contrary canadiens all come to the USA when they need treatment.

Anonymous said...

Humans are flawed. Focus on the resurrection and what it means.

Anonymous said...

5:08, thank you.

Anonymous said...

My, my, how the heathen do rage. Too bad that this confidence man in priestly garments has upset some non-believers. Every group of any size has all sorts of people apt to behave in less than proper manner. Some folks who post on Kingfish's board are really miserable in their own skins -- much easier to critize than to try and resolve your own problems. Reminds me of some politicians or TV preachers. Turn off the sound and just watch their faces -- angry to the bone.

Anonymous said...

7:19 Yep, I do. Pick and choose, or ignore, thats the way it is done today.

Anonymous said...

@8:00 PM - Au contrair. Canada has good health care providers, but there is a long wait if one wants it for free. If you have the cash then there is no wait.

Fr. Lenin wanted the cash from his parishioners, and besides, as a non-Canadian resident/citizen he wouldn't be eligible for the free care.

Anonymous said...

Faith should not be put in man. Man is fallible, and will sin. Put your faith in God.

Anonymous said...

Father Lennin used to be at St. Richards( Jackson) or St. Francis ( Madison)

And FYI I'm 57 year old Catholic that was an alter boy
back in the early 70's and was never molested by a priest

Remember the Baptist have their pervert preachers also !

Kingfish said...

Keep the comments to the subject of the post. It's clear some people have their own grievances, including theological ones with the Roman Catholic Church. Not the place for those comments.

Anonymous said...

Did the Diocese have accountants on staff or were they peeping and hiding as well?

StarRider said...

Hopefully this POS and everyone higher in the food chain that covered for him will end up in prison.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Catholic, but one of those named played a prominent role in my life. I'm hoping that as more becomes known, he will be shown to have been one of the whistle-blowers.

Anonymous said...

7'29am doent know much about canada. 8pm does

Anonymous said...

When will members of this cult get fed up and leave it? Or does it send some sort of electrical current up the leg for them to claim "I'm a member of the church"?

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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