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Feds accuse Starkville priest of scamming parishioners

A federal agent is accusing a Starkville priest of conning church members out of money by claiming he had cancer and spending the money on himself.

Posted: Mon Nov 12 21:40:11 PST 2018
Updated: Mon Nov 12 21:40:12 PST 2018

Speech to Text for Feds accuse Starkville priest of scamming parishioners

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a breaking news story we brought you at five. a priest in starkville is now under investigation...af ter a homeland security agent accuses him of trying to scam people out of money... at the time claiming he had an illness. wtva's rebecca butcher joins us live in starkville with more on the investigation. father lenin vargas is a priest here at saint joseph catholic church. he accused of lying about having cancer then using funds raised to treat him..for hiimself. this statement was released from the catholic diocese of jackson...it says in part: "pending the resolution of the investigation, father lenin vargas will not engage in any public ministry, and has been removed from all pastoral and financial administration. " an affidavit in the case shows how much money from donators, churches and members was involved. we obtained this document from our partner the starkville daily news... in it...father lenin vargas...is accused of tellinghis parishioners multiple times that he had cancer and that he was going to canada seeking treatment. but the affidavit by homeland securityallegesthat vargas does not have cancerand is in facth-i-v positive. ...and they claim the treatment he got in canada was at a toronto facility that treats priests for sexual addiction. this gofundme account was set up to raise money to cover his medical expenses... authorities claim between march and april of 2015...about $20,021 was deposited into vargas' bank account..largely spent on personal expenses. and between november and december of that same year, $33, 674 deposited. vargas is also accused of raising money from parishioners for an orphanage in mexico but spent that money and the cancer donations on himself. right now, no charges have been brought against the priest..those i spoke to who didn't want to go on camera, say they would never guess a priest who be involved in scammnig his parishioners. stay with us for the lastest in this investigation. we're live tonight in starkville, rebecca butcher wtva nine news. at chief
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