Thursday, January 14, 2016

Saginaw church the focus of embezzlement investigation

One of Saginaw's oldest churches is the focus of an embezzlement investigation. Parishioners have been informed that someone stole  from a church fund. So far, there have been no arrests, but we've been told the church may have lost up to a quarter of a million dollars.
The investigation officially started just before Thanksgiving, but it's still not clear if or when criminal charges will be issued.
St. John's Lutheran Church, on Federal Avenue, sits just across the street from Saginaw's main fire station. It's been a fixture in the city for more than a century and a half, after being founded by German immigrants in 1852.
In November, parishioners were shocked to find out that money is missing from the church's coffers. ABC12 News has the amount could top $200,000.
Pastor Connie Sassanella told parishioners about the investigation during a service a few weeks ago.
A parishioner says Sassanella also told the congregation a man suspected of the embezzlement has been identified and that he is cooperating with Michigan State Police investigators. She did not identify the man, but ABC12 News has learned he is a long-time member of St John's Lutheran.
Sassanella had no comment Monday on the investigation, referring all questions to the state police.
At this time, all MSP will say is that an investigation into the missing funds has started and several search warrants have been executed, including one at the suspect's house and some at Saginaw area
We've also learned investigators took a computer from the Saginaw Township Fire Department in connection with the case, but the reason the computer was taken is not clear.
Parishioners we spoke with declined comment on camera, but they say they haven't been told much about the investigation and are stunned it's taking place.
The investigation continues, and if criminal charges are issued, it most likely won't happen until next week at the earliest.

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