Thursday, July 16, 2020

Priest Indicted for Fraud, Jackson Diocese Settles with Feds

Note: I am working on this post right now but here are the indictment and a press release issued by the Diocese.  

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson issued the following statement. 

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson has entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors to tighten financial controls and bring to a conclusion an investigation stemming from the actions of one of its former pastors.

Over the last year and a half, federal authorities have conducted an investigation into events at the parish in Starkville and its mission in Macon that involved then Father Lenin Vargas. That investigation included federal authorities executing search warrants at those sites and at the offices of the Diocese in Jackson.

“During the course of the investigation, the Diocese has worked to bring forth the truth that would lead to a just resolution and reconciliation throughout our Catholic community,” said Bishop Joseph Kopacz.

The Deferred Prosecution Agreement spells out a number of specific changes the Diocese is to undertake and maintain including:

  • Return of donations related to alleged fraudulent activities against parishioners
  • Undertake staff changes in the Accounting and Chancery Offices
  • Improvements in accounting for donations and priest spending
  • Formation of a new review board focusing on ethical conduct
  • Establish a fraud prevention hotline
  • Revise collection policies
  • Initiate formal penal process for Vargas
The Diocese had proactively undertaken all of these measures during the course of the investigation, with the exception of initiation of a formal penal process for Vargas, which will begin now.

“There are still steps to be taken and certainly more changes ahead,” added Bishop Kopacz. “As part of an agreed upon resolution of the federal investigation, the Diocese will welcome periodic review and oversight of its financial and management practices and protocols. As a result of the many steps we have already taken to tighten our internal controls, we are very comfortable with this resolution.”

Bishop Kopacz expressed, “deep regret for all who have been hurt by Lenin Vargas’s actions. We still invite anyone to come forward with claims, and we will work to seek a just resolution with them. We hope in Christ for new life and peace.”

The Agreement is to be in effect for twelve months.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The Pope wanted to be called Pope Don Corleone, but it was already taken.

Anonymous said...

@12:23, not funny or cute.

Kingfish said...

Knock off the Catholic jokes in comments. Quit trying to refight the Reformation as well. Not approving those comments.

Anonymous said...

@12:50 if you cant handle some satire, you shouldn't be posting anonymously on a slightly sketchy blog about mississippi. (Not op)

Anonymous said...

@1:49 PM bovine scatology. Proof? Link?

Anonymous said...

He's human and fallible, and remember so are you - remember that as you frantically attempt to come up with the snarky "comment of the day."

I'm sure all of the Catholic-bashers here would willingly share their entire internet browsing history and would submit to a comprehensive review of all of their behavior with themselves and others' wives and children.

Sometimes its better to keep your yap shut, lest someone point the finger at you.

Vargas will pay a hefty price for his indiscretions and will have an eternity to work it out with our savior.

Anonymous said...

1255, can't give an accurate count, but if you give us your numebrs it will be a start.

Anonymous said...

" Knock off the Catholic jokes in comments. Quit trying to refight the Reformation as well. Not approving those comments. "

Agreed kingfish !

(And I'm another Protestant).

Instead of religious debates, let's have a new hot reporter poll !

Anonymous said...

Vargas? Hell of an artist!

Anonymous said...

I'm Catholic and I'm usually not the one to throw the first stone... but damn, that is one hell of a lie that should have been dealt with immediately.

Did he not think that anyone would eventually find out?... Telling your congregation that you have cancer and not really having it is bad enough. But getting HIV from your gay boyfriend in Mexico after taking a vow of celibacy? Then using illness as a hook for donations... donations that you send to your gay lover in Mexico for your futures? Then run away from the heat instead of facing judgement after getting caught? I know there's a priest shortage, but damn, not bad enough to need this type of guy. I hope the diocese learned a valuable lesson.

Anonymous said...

I think the fallacy of the press release was Bishop Kopacz expressing deep regret to all who were hurt by Vargas. The indictment shows clearly that either willingly or through absolute gross ignorance, the Diocese and the Bishop are guilty as well. How about a little self-regret for what happened Bishop? They perpetuated the lie by trying to cover up his sex addiction.

I'll bet they still have a majority of the finance staff still employed.

Anonymous said...

Catholic priest or protestant preacher, it makes no difference. There are good and bad in both groups. Unfortunately organized religion all to often becomes the refuge of a true scoundrel. When one of these evildoers is caught he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but that is not usually the case. We have a tendency to excuse the wrongs committed by a “man of the cloth”. That is not the way things should be done, but that is the way it goes. He will ultimately be found guilty because in the end God will judge him.

Anonymous said...

8:41 Yeah they shouldn’t have any trouble paying their finance staff after PPP.

Anonymous said...

This Bishop is slippery (look up his record in Pennsylvania) and he’s hurt a lot of folks in Starkville who attend Vargas’ old church. The priest who helped them through it and spoke up against Vargas was punished with a transfer out of Starkville. Thank you for shining a light on this ugly, seedy story.

Anonymous said...

"Punished with a transfer"...I hope that's sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

The focus here is not Vargas. Vargas's are going to exist until the end of times. He is nothing more than a common criminal that used his position to steal. The focus here is the bishop and his role on this issue. The bishop has entered into a Deferred Prosecutorial Agreement with the DOJ. A DPA is an alternative to adjudication, it grants amnesty to a defendant who is agreeing to certain stipulations. The defendant is Bishop Kopacz. He covered for Vargas knowing full well as to what Vargas was up to. He even lied to parishioners who ask him direct questions about Vargas. The bishop's Vicar General, Elvin Sunds was implicated as well in the 'cover up'. This is not some oversight or error of bad judgement. This is a systematic effort to manipulate the truth. As stated once already Bishop Kopacz was named twice in the scathing PA grand jury report from two years ago. Bishop Kopacz was engaged in a fraudulent scheme of cover up. This ongoing systemic unchecked power of the institutional Church is harming people. The blatant disregard by this bishop is of the same ilk as the never ending cover up of sexual crimes committed by catholic clergy.

Anonymous said...

Will there be further posting on this?

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