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Diocese removes Mississippi priest after federal fraud probe

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — The Roman Catholic diocese in Jackson, Mississippi, has removed a priest from the ministry staff at a Starkville church after a federal fraud investigation.

Local media report that the priest’s removal and replacement at St. Joseph Catholic Church was announced Sunday.

The priest is accused of defrauding parishioners and others who donated thousands of dollars to a GoFundMe campaign for what he claimed was cancer treatment. A federal agent says the priest didn’t have cancer.

He’s also accused in a court affidavit of raising money for a chapel and orphanage in Mexico. In both cases, he allegedly used the money on personal expenses instead.

Diocese spokeswoman Maureen Smith attributed his removal to a series of reassignments across Mississippi. So far, no formal criminal charges have been filed against the priest.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com

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