UPDATE:: How $42K-a-year priest built mansion worth millions
The Rev. Jon Wehrle, who is proud of his prowess as a builder, constructed his masterpiece on the rural outskirts of this central Michigan town.
The two-story, stone-façade house has eight bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, a library, wine cellar, indoor swimming pool and wood-paneled elevator. The 11,300-square-foot home boasts granite counter tops, limestone fireplaces, walnut hardwood floors, crystal chandeliers and stained-glass windows.Wehrle, 67, who was pastor of St. Martha Church in Okemos, lived in the mansion, which a contractor said was worth $3 million to $4 million.How could a Catholic priest who earned $42,000 a year afford such opulence?Police officials argue the clergyman had stolen from the Sunday collection plate for at least 19 years. An audit found $5 million missing from church coffers, they said.
UPDATE:: Priest accused of embezzlement seeks $800K seized by police_
The attorney for a Michigan priest accused of bilking a Catholic church that’s missing millions of dollars asked a judge Friday to authorize the release of $800,000 seized by police to his client.
Prosecutors filed an application in June for a lien against an 11,000-square-foot home the priest owns that’s worth more than $1 million and sits on 10 acres. Wehrle’s lawyer, Lawrence Nolan, has said money from Wehrle’s family could have paid for it.
The lien application states that Wehrle had “sole access” to St. Martha Parish’s finances and offerings, “with no oversight within the parish” and lists 10 residences Wehrle owns or has owned since 1988 in several Michigan communities and in Florida.
Police and prosecutors have alleged Wehrle used money from St. Martha Parish to pay for work and materials at his Williamston home. At a hearing last week, Assistant Ingham County Prosecutor Andrew Stevens said an ongoing audit estimates about $5 million is missing from the parish.
Records: Priest admitted in 2007 to using parish checks for home construction