Okemos priest heading to trial on embezzlement charges

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Okemos priest Jonathan Wehrle is heading to circuit court on six counts of embezzlement charges over $100,000. That is one count for each year between 2011-2016. His arraignment is scheduled for November 29th at 8:30 A.M.

Wehrle was a priest at St. Martha Parish who was accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the parish.

The investigation came about after a routine financial audit by the Catholic Diocese of Lansing. Investigators say Wehrle was writing parish checks for personal expenses. Checks totaling more than $1.85 million were used for properties he owned, such as two homes and barns. The audit showed more than $140 thousand in parish funds spent for his home last year alone.
Michigan State Police detective Erik Darling, took the witness stand Friday to continue reading off several expense invoices spent by Wehrle but paid for by the parish. Invoices included such things as cabinets at Wehrle home to piano/organ repairs.

Prosecutors originally filed one embezzlement charge, Wehrle now faces six. "The goal was not only to present the evidence to the single charges that we started with but to add the additional charges as I had indicated in the very beginning. Again that was our goal coming in today and very thankful that turned out that way" said Andrew Stevens, Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor.

Wehrle's lawyer admits some of the items paid for with church money were sent to his house, but that doesn't mean they were for his personal use.