Manitoba pastor admits church theft

| October 29, 2009

WINNIPEG (CBC) – A former pastor at a Manitoba church has pleaded guilty to stealing money from his parish.

Raju Madanu pleaded guilty Monday to breaking-and-entering and theft in connection with the crime at St. Augustine of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church in Brandon.

"Incredulous. When the [police] sergeant informed me of the arrest, I couldn't believe my ears," said Rev. Dominic Yuen, Madanu's former boss.

Yuen said Madanu worked at the church for two years and was well-liked and respected in the community.

Yuen estimated the church lost between $20,000 and $54,000. The money was being collected to be distributed to orphans in Tanzania.

The judge hearing the case has ordered the defence lawyer to provide an exact account of the amount of money and where it is.

Sentencing in the case is set for Dec. 22.

Yuen said the theft from the collection basket occurred between Feb. 4 and June 29. Initially, he chalked up the lighter collections to the recession and the reluctance of parishioners to part with as much of their money as usual.

But one day, one of the parishioners noted the basket had three $20 bills on the top. However, when she went to count the bills the following day, they were missing. She reported it to Yuen, who then monitored the collection on a following weekend.

"We counted the collection, noted what was in the basket, and then when the counters came [on Monday], indeed a significant amount was missing," he said.

Yuen called the company that monitored the church's alarm system. A printout of the previous 12 months showed a pattern every Monday the alarm was briefly deactivated between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Yuen reported it to the police, who set up a sting in June.

They marked bills in the church then waited and watched from their cars during the time the alarm was typically deactivated.

They caught Madanu with the marked bills, Yuen said.

Madanu admitted turning off the security alarm for 10 minutes every Monday morning.

Yuen said Madanu has offered no apology to the church or the community. He is free on bail awaiting sentencing.

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Category: Church Security

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