Lawyer Says HIV to Blame for Deacons Church Theft

| December 4, 2009

CLEVELAND — Larry Cermak, 59, a deacon in the church and the bookkeeper at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Garfield Heights, admitted to stealing $335,000 from his home parish, over a six year period. He says he took about $5,000 a month.

"I take full responsibility for what I did," said Cermak. The deacon also tells Fox 8 News he's remorseful for the pain he's caused his family.

"Certainly I hurt my wife and family and my extended family and certainly the parish and my deacon family," says Cermak.

Several priests and members of Saints Peter and Paul filled the courtroom to hear the sentence Wednesday.

Cermak's defense attorney, John Gibbons, made a shocking revelation to the court while trying to explain why the married father stole so much money.

"In 1998 I believe he contracted HIV," said Gibbons. "Somewhere along the line he lost his job at ATV Steel and he will admit to you that he was very concerned about his appearance to the world and to the community at large and for whatever reason took advantage of the situation at St. Peter and St. Paul."

The defense did not elaborate on how Cermak contracted HIV.

The judge sentenced Cermak to three years at the Lorain Correctional Institute and $335,000 in restitution, to be paid to Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

Cermak has not commented publicly about allegedly contracting HIV.,0,4134691.story?track=rss

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Category: Church Security

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