Priest Accused of Scamming Friends, Family, Church Members

By Michael George
September 29, 2010

WATERTOWN- Investigators say Father Thomas Marr fell victim to a Nigerian financial scam. But now, he’s under arrest and facing jail time. Police say to get the money to participate in the scam, Marr stole from the church and scammed his own parishioners, friends, and family.

Father Marr of St. Bernard Parish in Watertown was allegedly convinced by a parishioner that he could get millions of dollars if he funded a money transfer out of Nigeria. After spending tens of thousands of dollars of his own money, Marr allegedly started lying to others, claiming he needed the money to help a church member in need.

He allegedly claimed he needed the money for a house, and in some cases claimed the money was to help a parish member save their farm.

Marr is accused of scamming more than 20 people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Two of his alleged victims who spoke to TODAY’S TMJ4 off camera say they are friends with Marr and forgive him. They do not believe he should go to jail.

Others say he should pay the price for his actions.

“He definitely deserves jail time, because all these people are donating money for what they think is going to a good cause, and it’s definitely not,” said Watertown resident Aaron Barnett.

In total, Marr estimated he gave away more than $600,000 of his own money, money stolen from the church, and donations from parishioners, friends, and family. He’s facing a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

Marr has been removed from St. Bernard Parish, but Madison Catholic Diocese officials say he is still being allowed to live at a church in Madison.


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