Former Rapid City priest accused of stealing over $150K from Rapid City Diocese indicted

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A federal indictment was filed this week against a former Rapid City priest accused of stealing over $150,000 from the Diocese of Rapid City.

Marcin Garbacz is accused of wire fraud, money laundering and transportation of stolen money.

Court documents indicate that from around July 2012 and April 2018, Garbacz allegedly began stealing cash donations from the plate collections passed around during worship services.

At the time, the cash donated during plate collections wasn’t immediately counted after services. Garbacz had access to where the donations were stored and prosecutors say he would enter the parish at night or in the early morning hours to steal some of the cash.

Eventually parish workers became suspicious after noticing the cash collections were unusually low. The parish decided to have a video surveillance system installed and began using tamper proof cash collection bags.

In response, Garbacz bought identical tamper proof bags and switched them out with the real ones after stealing cash. He would then forge the writing on the new tamper proof bags to conceal that anything had been taken.

Additionally, when parish workers reviewed the surveillance footage, they learned that it had been turned off or was having technical issues when the suspected thefts occurred and didn’t record anything.

Eventually a bookkeeper at St. Therese’s parish installed two additional video cameras that Garbacz was unaware of. On April 23, 2018 at approximately 2:30 a.m., the cameras recorded him removing cash donations and returning the altered bags.

Garbacz was confronted by the Bishop later in the day. He initially denied the theft, but later admitted to diverting cash donations after being confronted by the video evidence.

As a result, he was sent to a treatment facility operated by the Catholic Church for parish workers who are facing moral issues. Garbacz ended up leaving the six-month treatment program early in violation of his letter of suspension from the bishop.

After he was removed, the Diocese noted a substantial increase in cash collections. Court documents say that between July 2012 and April 2018, Garbacz made cash deposits into his personal bank account in excess of $150,000.

Although he no longer had a source of legitimate cash earnings, Garbacz continued to move cash through several different bank accounts throughout 2018 and this year.

A federal agent contacted Garbacz on May 6 to advise him that he was being investigated. On May 10 of 2019, Garbacz scheduled a one-way flight leaving Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Poland.

He was arrested at the airport, and was discovered to be carrying $10,556 in cash.

Before his time at the Diocese of Rapid City, Garbacz worked at the St. Joseph parish in Faith, but was removed in part because of his financial mismanagement of the parish. Before his removal in 2012, an audit conducted by the Diocese found St. Joseph’s accounting records were in poor condition.

During his residence in Rapid City, Garbacz had access to cash collections at several parishes, including Blessed Sacrament, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church.

Garbacz faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.


Categories: Local News, South Dakota News