Appeals Court Suggests Harsher Sentence for Priest Who Embezzled from Archdiocese
By Khalil AlHajal
March 18, 2016
The Michigan Court of Appeals has sent a church embezzlement case back to Wayne County Circuit Court for the possible re-sentencing of a priest originally ordered to serve one year in prison in two-month increments over five years.
Timothy Kane, 59, who served as a pastor at St. Benedict, St. Gregory, and the Church of the Madonna in Detroit between 2008 and 2014, was convicted of embezzling $131,400 from a charitable fund of the Archdiocese of Detroit known as the Angel Fund.
Kane and Dorreca Brewer, 36, of Jackson were accused of conspiring to submit fraudulent applications for grants from the fund, meant for needy families in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
A jury found Kane guilty of conspiracy to commit a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to use a computer to commit a 20-year felony, two counts of uttering and publishing and two counts of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 from a charitable organization.
Brewer pleaded no contest to embezzlement and uttering and publishing and was sentenced to five years probation.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Bruce Morrow ordered Kane to serve his one-year term in annual two-months increments over five years, plus occasional weekend prison time.
Sentencing guidelines called for a range of three to five years in prison, and the Wayne County Prosecutor's office called Kane's sentencing "most unusual," later appealing the order.
The Michigan Court of Appeals in a March 17 ruling sent the case back to Wayne County for another judge to consider changing the sentence.
The court pointed to a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling that expanded judicial discretion over sentencing, but also allowed for sentences that depart from established guidelines ranges to be "reviewed by an appellate court for reasonableness."
Because Morrow based his sentencing on "impermissible factors," including biblical passages, the court ruled, "a different judge should preside over the remand proceedings."
"To aid the trial court on remand, we note concern with the trial court's decision and
reasoning at sentencing," the appeals court asserted in the ruling.
"... Our review of the record reveals that the trial court did not base its downward departure on objective and verifiable factors not considered or adequately weighed by the guidelines... Indeed, the trial court focused on impermissible factors such as defendant's lack of prior criminal record, the subjective opinion of the court that defendant was entitled to mercy for his crimes, the good deeds defendant had done as a priest, biblical passages, defendant's subjective motives and intentions, the sentence given to a co-conspirator who pled guilty, and public opinion of defendant... Indeed, defendant's history of embezzling money for four years from a charitable organization in collaboration with a convicted criminal and other criminal elements in the community was a serious offense for which defendant was convicted by a jury."
The archdiocese removed Kane from its ministry in February 2014.