JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - According to federal investigators, there is probable cause to show that a Starkville priest fraudulently received donations by lying and telling people he had cancer. His diocese knew about this and documents obtained by 3 on your side reveal that efforts were made to cover it up while he tried to raise money.
A Department of Homeland Security special agent said in an affidavit that the priest did not have cancer and actually had HIV. According to the paperwork, the priest was diagnosed with HIV in 2014.
According to authorities, the priest collected donations from church members and others then spent the money mostly on personal expenses. A GoFundMe account was even set up for the priest, and money was raised for his cancer treatments through it.
Federal agents also stated that the Diocese of Jackson knew about this, and even helped spread the priest’s story about cancer in an email to other priests.
It is believed that the priest did all of this to hide his HIV illness and protect the diocese from any negative publicity.
So far, no one has been charged in this case.
Diocese offices are located in Jackson, Biloxi, Birmingham and the archdiocese in Mobile. According to documents 3 on your side has, the search warrant for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson office building was issued on November 6.
Clergy personnel files from nearly seven decades are being examined.