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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Former Rapid City Priest Convicted on 65 Counts in Theft, Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, age 41, formerly an ordained priest assigned to the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, South Dakota, was found guilty by a federal trial jury of 50 counts of Wire Fraud, nine counts of Money Laundering, one count of Transportation of Stolen Money, and five counts of Making and Subscribing a False Tax Return following a week-long jury trial at the federal courthouse in Rapid City.

Wire Fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for each count.

Money Laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and/or a $500,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for each count.

Transportation of Stolen Money carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for each count.

Making and Subscribing a False Tax Return carries a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, one year of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for each count. Restitution may also be ordered.

Evidence at trial established that Garbacz, while employed as a priest with the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, devised a scheme to steal monies collected from parishioners at various church services by secretly entering the areas in three parish churches where such monies were stored.  He took steps such as entering the church buildings late in the evening, removing and replacing special, tamper-proof bank bags, making multiple same-day deposits totaling tens of thousands of dollars of stolen money in ATMs well after midnight, and laundering such stolen money through a variety of banks, investment firms, and credit card companies. 

Garbacz used the hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen parishioner money to purchase for himself over a dozen gold-plated chalices, numerous bronze statues, a $10,000 diamond ring, Mont Blanc fountain pens, and more.

“The cache of worldly treasures accumulated by this common thief looks like something from Raiders of the Lost Ark,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “He bought it all using money he stole from his parishioners – money that was intended to help the Church and help the poor.  The selfishness and greed of it all is mind-boggling.” 

“Income is taxable, regardless of the source” said Karl Stiften, Special Agent in Charge, at the IRS Criminal Investigation division.  “Special Agents are following the money to make sure everyone complies with the tax laws.”   

Once he was made aware of the federal investigation, Garbacz drained his bank account of more than $50,000 and bought a one-way plane ticket to Poland.  Fortunately, he was arrested by federal agents at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in May 2019 just before his flight was to depart. 

Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Patterson prosecuted and tried the case, and the investigation was led by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A sentencing date will be scheduled.  Garbacz was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing.

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Updated March 10, 2020