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By Njodzeka Danhatu 

A Catholic Priest from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, North of San Francisco, has been acussed of stealing parish funds amounting to more than $95000 (over 55 million FCFA).

The figures were revealed following an investigations carried out after Father Oscar Diaz was found with $18000 recently. 

A statement from the Diocese on monday stated that $18,000 in church collections were found in Father Oscar Diaz’s car at the time of the accident on June 17.

The father was fleeing with the money then had an accident that left him injured in the hospital. 

The Dioceses added that further investigation revealed “a prolonged history of theft,” with more than $95,000 stolen from parishes where the 56-year-old Diaz had served over the past 15 years.

The Bishop of the Diocese said he was deeply grieved and sadden that this has happened and that the parishes he was sent to serve have been harmed.

According to Bishop Robert Vasa. “The full extent of the theft is not known and may never be fully known, but the Diocese is committed to determining as fully as possible the extent of the theft from each of these parishes.”

The clegyman added that, Diaz, who has been a priest for 25 years, told the emergency responders at the time of the crash that the bags of cash were his salary.

But a hospital employee uncomfortable with the amount of money Diaz brought into the emergency room contacted police, who alerted the diocese.

Vasa said a search of Diaz’s office and the rectory where he lived uncovered a large number of collection bags containing cash. A further probe revealed that Diaz had also deposited a number of checks made out to parishes into his personal bank account.

Vasa said Diaz had admitted to stealing church collection bags for some time.