Pa. priest’s embezzlement case headed to trial

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The case against a parish priest charged with embezzling more than $384,000 from a central Pennsylvania church is bound for trial.

Father Caesar A. Belchez, 52, of Harrisburg, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning when he appeared before District Judge Daniel Bowman.

Belchez is accused of taking the money between 2006 and 2011 while he was pastor at Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Bonneauville, according to prosecutors. He allegedly embezzled nearly $312,000 in cash and made an additional $72,766 in unauthorized purchases with credit cards issued to the parish.

Belchez was charged earlier this month with two counts of theft and one count of access device fraud, each a third-degree felony.

He faces up to 21 years in prison and maximum fines of $45,000 if convicted.

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