Former priest charged with embezzling from church - WNEM TV 5

Former priest charged with embezzling from church

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Nancy DeFrenn (Source: Shiawassee County Sheriff's Dept.) Nancy DeFrenn (Source: Shiawassee County Sheriff's Dept.)

Authorities said a former priest at a Mid-Michigan church has been charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the church.

David Fisher, 70, was arrested on March 11 during a meeting in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Fisher is charged with seven counts of embezzlement, including one count of embezzlement of $100,000 or more; one count of embezzlement as an agent or trustee of an amount between $20,000 and $50,000; one count of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 as an agent or trustee; two counts of embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000; and two counts of embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000.

Michigan State Police believe Fisher used church money for personal use since at least 2009, but it is possible the embezzlement began before that time. He served as pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso from 1992 to 2015.

Following Fisher's retirement in 2015, irregularities prompted the church to contact Michigan State Police and begin their investigation in 2016.

The Diocese of Lansing offered this statement:

Following the retirement of Rev. David Fisher from the pastorate of St. Joseph Parish in Owosso, financial irregularities came to light.  These were promptly reported by the Diocese of Lansing to representatives of law enforcement, who began an investigation. 

Fisher is currently fighting extradition to Michigan.

Longtime secretary 55-year-old Nancy DeFrenn, of Owosso is also charged in connection with the case. She has been arraigned on one count of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 from a nonprofit organization or charity. She has since bonded out.

DeFrenn was the church’s secretary when Fisher was pastor.

Police said DeFrenn wrote checks to pay for personal items with money from the church’s account.

The pair were also allegedly taking money from the church’s St. Vincent DePaul Foundation, a charitable organization for needy families.

Fisher faces up to 20 years in prison while DeFrenn faces up to 10 years in prison, a $15,000 fine and/or three times the amount embezzled – whichever is greater. 

"When I opened the paper yesterday I was absolutely devastated," said Kari Selleck.

Fisher officiated her wedding ceremony.

"I thought he was a lovely man and was dedicated to the church. So I'm very surprised," Selleck said.

Bruce Buysse said he knows a lot of people who attend St. Joseph Parish. Fisher's alleged actions is a hard pill for the community to swallow, he said.

"We put faith in our pastors and we hope that they'll do right by us," Buysse said.

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