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This article was published 28/10/2009 (3646 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON - A pastor who claims he stole donation money from a city church to send funds to an orphanage in Tanzania has pleaded guilty to break, enter and theft.
However, Judge Krystyna Tarwid delayed sentencing when it appeared Crown and defence lawyers were about to recommend a conditional sentence.
Such a sentence would allow Raju Madanu to avoid jail and serve his time in the community under house arrest. Tarwid said lawyers are going to have to argue for a sentence that excludes jail.
"I don’t know, in terms of general deterrence, what message would be sent by giving a conditional sentence to someone in the Catholic church when they dip their fingers in the congregation’s funds," Tarwid said.
Details of Madanu’s crime came to light Monday after he pleaded guilty to break, enter and theft between Feb. 4 and June 29.
Crown attorney Rich Lonstrup said Madanu was caught in a police sting after Father Dominic Yuen of St. Augustine of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church met with city police on June 23.
There had been a large drop in collection plate donations and records showed the church’s alarm had been regularly deactivated Monday mornings between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. The alarm could only be deactivated using a code known to a limited number of people, Lonstrup said.
Madanu had worked at St. Augustine as a pastor, possibly under a mentorship, before becoming a lead pastor at a Roman Catholic church in Virden. All of the thefts were committed after Madanu left St. Augustine, but he had access to alarm codes and knew where certain keys were kept.
In response to Yuen’s complaint, police placed the church under surveillance and recorded the serial numbers of donated bills.
On June 29 at 4:30 a.m., officers stopped Madanu two blocks from St. Augustine and found $510, which was stolen from the church, in his pocket.
Madanu was arrested but denied doing anything wrong. He lied about the money in his pocket, Lonstrup said, and claimed it was donations from the Virden area. He also denied entering the church and taking money when confronted by police with 36 instances in which the St. Augustine alarm was deactivated.
Madanu finally admitted stealing money after police informed him they’d recorded the serial numbers of money from St. Augustine.
The accused claimed that he took the money to send to an orphanage in Tanzania and eventually acknowledged stealing $13,200, a figure agreed to by the church which originally estimated up to $20,000 may have been taken.
However, an examination of wire transfer records has only added to the mystery. Lonstrup noted records indicate Madanu sent only $611 to Tanzania and investigators couldn’t determine whether the funds went to an orphanage.
Records also show more than $54,000 — more money than the church estimated was missing — was sent to individuals with the surname of Madanu.
Tarwid delayed sentencing to Dec. 22, ordered a pre-sentence report and instructed defence lawyer Bernie Rodrigue to come up with an account of where the all the money came from and where it went.
Madanu is currently out of custody.
- Brandon Sun