Pastor accused of stealing from Wilmington church

A Wilmington pastor faces theft charges after allegedly stealing nearly $360,000 from two city churches.

Father Cornelius Breslin turned himself in to Capitol Police in Wilmington this morning to face charges which include two counts of theft over $100,000 and two counts of falsifying business records.  A New Castle County Grand Jury has indicted Breslin following a five month investigation by the Delaware Department of Justice.

“Stealing from church funds is an abuse of trust and a criminal offense which we take very seriously, ” said Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden in a statement.

The indictment accuses Breslin of writing checks to himself from the bank accounts of St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s churches, where he pastored.  Investigators say Breslin wrote himself checks worth more than $358,000 from the church accounts from July 2009 through August 2010.

Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington W. Francis Malooly issued a statement saying, “I am saddened by the news of Fr. Cornelius Breslin’s arrest.  I am concerned for the parishioners of St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s and Fr. Breslin.”  Malooly has placed Breslin on administrative leave, and Malooly says he’s “been relieved of all faculties to function publicly as a priest.”

Malooly plans to be at both churches for services this Sunday, “To lend my support and assist in any way I can.  I have asked certain members of my diocesan staff to meet with me and the lay leadership of the parish and Fr. Klein to discuss immediate needs.

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