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Okemos Pastor Accused of Embezzlement Appears In Court

Court Room
Katie Cook
Lawrence Nolan questions Carl Mengeling (on left) Wehrle's former Bishop. Wehrle is sitting down in the center. Attorney Lawrence Nolan is on the right.

Okemos priest Jonathan Wehrle appeared in Ingham County 55th District court Friday for a hearing to determine if he will face an embezzlement charge.

Wehrle, founding pastor of  Saint Martha Parish in Okemos, has been charged with embezzlement of $100,000 or more. Police allege he spent more than $1.85 million in parish funds on his home in Williamston.

The hearing consisted mostly of Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Stevens, and Wehrle's lawyer, Lawrence Nolan, questioning the first witness: the retired Bishop of the Lansing Diocese, Carl Mengeling. He was asked about how much independence priests were given when starting a parish.

"There are parameters that are very clear about what the responsibility of the priest is with that assignment that he's got to start a new parish," said Mengeling.

Wehrle has been placed on administrative leave. The hearing is expected to be continued on September 1.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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