CV NEWS FEED // The Catholic diocese of Lansing, Michigan has officially announced that one of their priests has been found guilty of embezzling other retired priests in Michigan.
According to the diocesan statement, “a retired Diocese of Lansing priest has been found guilty of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from three elderly clerics of the diocese.”
“72-year-old Father David Rosenberg was convicted, February 9, on multiple counts of criminal embezzlement following a jury trial at Clinton County Circuit Court in St Johns, Michigan,” the statement says.
According to The Detroit News, Rosenberg
was convicted of three counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult-$100,000 or more, a 20-year felony; a count of false pretenses-$100,000 or more, a 20-year-felony; a count of false pretenses-$20,000 to $50,000, a 15-year felony; a count of perjury, a 15-year-felony; a count of uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony; and a count of larceny $20,000 or more, a 10-year-felony.
The Detroit News identified his victims as Fr. Benjamin Werner, Fr. Joseph Aubin and Fr. Ken McDonald. Both Werner and Aubin lived at the Retreat Center run by Rosenberg until they died.
According to authorities, Rosenberg claims he used the money to fund his charitable foundation, FaithFirst, formerly known as the Rosenberg Family Corporation. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 18.
In its website, Faith First claims to be a 501(c)3 charitable foundation “offering Christian Campus Leadership Ministry Scholarships, Christian School Tuition Assistance Programs, Food Bank, Urban Farming and Farmers Markets Funding.”
In a post on the foundation’s website that goes back to December 2022, when the accusations were officially made, Rosenberg’s lawyer, Dustyn Coontz, argued that
Father David is effectively accused of swindling other priests to donate their money to charity before they die. So what’s more reasonable: the Attorney General’s story of a mastermind manipulator who doesn’t even personally benefit from the crimes or the possibility that clergy wanted to be charitable with their earthly treasures as they contemplated the eternal? We think the latter is far more reasonable.
Upon the allegations against him were made public in 2022, Bishop Earl Boyea ordered Fr. Rosenberg to refrain from public ministry. That order remains in place.
David Kerr, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Lansing, said in the February 10 statement that “upon the conclusion of these criminal proceedings, our prayers are naturally with those most affected by Father Rosenberg’s actions, especially the close friends and family of his three victims, each of whom has since died, may they rest in peace.”