A Santa Rosa priest involved in a car crash was also discovered to be stealing thousands of dollars from the parishes where he served, according to a statement by the Diocese of Santa Rosa.
Father Oscar Diaz of Resurrection Parish injured his hip in a collision in mid-June and when first responders arrived they found bags of money in his car totaling nearly $20,000. The bags were later identified by parish leaders as the security bags used for the routine collections, Bishop Robert Vasa said in a statement.
Diaz was associate pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Napa between 1999 and 2007. He had also served at the St. Helena Catholic Church.
Police turned the money over to the Diocese and it was linked to Resurrection Parish, where Diaz was a pastor.
Further investigation by church leaders found that an additional $77,000 in cash was stolen from other parishes where Diaz has served in the past, Vasa stated.
“I am deeply grieved that this happened and am deeply saddened that the parishes he was sent to serve have been harmed,” he said.
Vasa acknowledged that even more money could have been stolen by Diaz and that the Diocese is continuing its internal investigation.
Diaz has been suspended from the ministry and the Diocese intends to make a full restitution to the parishes where the money was stolen, Vasa said.
No criminal charges have been filed.