Priest Indicted in Edgewater Church Theft

By Matt Walberg and Angela Rozas
Chicago Tribune

August 8, 2008,0,6066370.story

Rev. Steven Patte allegedly stole more than $10,000 from St. Ita's

A Chicago-area Roman Catholic priest was charged Friday with stealing from his former North Side parish.

Rev. Steven Patte, 64, pleaded not guilty in Cook County Circuit Judge William Lacy's courtroom to charges of theft, money laundering and other financial crimes.

The eight-count indictment charged Patte stole a little more than $12,000 from St. Ita's Parish in Edgewater between May 2004 and July 2005.

A Chicago police detective who belonged to the parish's finance committee grew suspicious about accounting discrepancies and placed a marked $100 bill in the collection plate, sources familiar with the case said.

Later, when the bill disappeared, Patte was confronted and allegedly admitted that he took the money for his personal use, the sources said.

In March 2006, Patte left St. Ita's as part of a routine reassignment and went to St. Emily's Parish in Mt. Prospect. Officials at St. Ita's later discovered a budget surplus had evaporated and the church had debts totaling $400,000, according to the sources.

Authorities said much of the debt is likely because of mismanagement after the finance committee was dissolved.

Patte stepped down from St. Emily's last month and is living in a private residence, according to Susan Burritt, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Patte was arraigned and released Friday.

Tribune reporter Manya Brachear contributed to this report.




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