Garden City Church Employee Charged with Stealing Parish Funds

By Norman Sinclair
The Detroit News
December 18, 2007

DETROIT -- A Garden City church employee could face up to 20 years in prison after she was charged today with embezzling more than $100,000 from parish funds.

Debra Ann Kilyanek, 54, was charged by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy with embezzlement over $100 and with using a computer to commit a crime.

Both charges are felonies with the embezzlement count carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. The second charge has a maximum penalty of 20 years and/or a fine of $20,000.

Kilyanek served as administrative assistant at St. Dunstan Catholic Church in Garden City. The investigation showed that starting in October 2005, she charged personal expenses to the church checking account.

The Rev. Donald Demmer, Kilyanek's supervisor in the controversial case, was not charged with a crime but did not escape harsh treatment from the criminal investigation.

Worthy said while there is insufficient evidence that Demmer misappropriated church funds, records showed that he made as many as 200 trips to casinos in Michigan, Nevada and Florida since 2000. In addition, the priest made numerous trips to casinos and resorts in the Caribbean.

Worthy said the investigation showed that Demmer funded his lifestyle in large part by multiple donations from parishioners made to him personally.

The prosecutor said Demmer was responsible for overseeing the budget of the church and failed to fulfill that trust.

In addition to the more than $100,000 Kilyanek allegedly stole, the parish now owes more than $1 million in taxes, interest and penalties that were not paid for payroll withdrawals.

You can reach Norm Sinclair at or (313) 222-2034


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.