Elderly Flint man pleads guilty to embezzling church's charitable gaming funds, must pay $37K

Posted at 11:34 AM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 11:44:47-05

A 79-year-old man from Flint faces sentencing in April after pleading guilt to embezzling charitable gaming funds and agreeing to repay $36,862 to St. Pius X Catholic Church and School, Flint and affiliated groups.

David Lee Thiese Sr. was charged with a 10-year felony count of embezzlement of $20,000 to $50,000. It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and carries a possible penalty of a $15,000 fine or three times the amount embezzled.

Thiese Sr. entered a guilty plea on the 10-year felony count at a pretrial conference on Feb. 22.

“We want to make sure charities receive the full measure of profits from charitable poker events they host,” said Richard Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board.  “In this case, proper oversight and accounting practices weren’t followed, but MGCB investigators audited the event results, uncovered the fraud and worked closely with the Attorney General’s office to restore the missing funds to the charity."

Thiese Sr. deposited the church's net profits into an account he controlled; the charities earned nearly $60,000 in combined net profit from charitable gaming events, but he shared only $22,900 in proceeds with the church.

Michigan law requires the entire net proceeds of a charitable gaming event be devoted exclusively to the charity's purposes.

He was listed as the event chairperson for 28 charitable poker events held in the Flint area between 2012 and 2014. The events were licensed as benefits for the church, its school and other church-affiliated organizations.