Bogus California priest who fleeced flock behind bars

2016-02-04 11:27
Erwin Mena allegedly impersonated a Roman Catholic priest and swindled thousands of dollars from parishioners at two Los Angeles area churches. (LAPD handout, AFP)

Erwin Mena allegedly impersonated a Roman Catholic priest and swindled thousands of dollars from parishioners at two Los Angeles area churches. (LAPD handout, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - A bogus California priest who allegedly swindled his flock of thousands of dollars while officiating at masses, weddings and funerals, will now have to atone for his "sins" before a judge.

Erwin Mena, 59, who went by the name "Padre," appeared in court on Wednesday to face a 30-count criminal complaint that includes charges that he sold parishioners at two Los Angeles churches fake trips to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia and New York last year.

He also sold parishioners CDs that he recorded and a book he claimed to have written entitled "Confessions of A Renegade Catholic Priest."

In total, authorities say he pocketed around $53 000 from his scheme, which was uncovered after church members never got their trip to see the pope and alerted the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Church officials say that Mena since the mid 1990s has misrepresented himself as a priest and his name was on a list of unauthorised priests operating across the nation.

However, he managed to pose as a man of the cloth in at least two parishes in the Los Angeles area, including one that needed a substitute priest and that failed to check his credentials.

"We are grateful to the Los Angeles Police Department for working to ensure that Erwin Mena was brought to justice," the archdiocese said in a statement.

"Our prayers go out to all the victims of his scam."

Mena was ordered held on Wednesday in lieu of $100 000 bail pending his arraignment on February 24.

If convicted he faces up to 21 years in prison.

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.