Rapid City Priest Sentenced to 7 Years and 9 Months in Federal Prison for Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Transportation of Stolen Money, and Filing a False Tax Return
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, age 42, an ordained priest assigned to the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, South Dakota, was sentenced on November 23, 2020 by Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Judge, on fifty 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. Garbacz was convicted in March 2020 following a week-long jury trial at the federal courthouse in Rapid City.
Garbacz was sentenced to 7 years and 9 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Garbacz was ordered to pay a $6,500 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and $258,696.19 in restitution to be split equally between three churches - St. Therese the Little Flower, Blessed Sacrament, and Cathedral of our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), and $46,008 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
The evidence at trial established Garbacz, while employed as a priest and Chaplin with the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, devised a scheme to steal cash collected from parishioners at various church services by secretly entering the areas in three parish churches where weekly donations were stored. Garbacz entered the church buildings late in the evening, removing and replacing special, tamper-proof bank bags, and making multiple same-day deposits totaling tens of thousands of dollars of stolen cash donations. Between 2012 and 2018, Garbacz stole $258,696.19 from St. Therese, Blessed Sacrament, and Cathedral OLPH Catholic Parishes in Rapid City. Garbacz also filed false tax returns for tax years 2013 through 2017.
Garbacz used the more than $250,000.00 in stolen donations to purchase for himself over a dozen gold-plated chalices, numerous bronze statues, a $10,000 diamond ring, a grand piano, Mont Blanc fountain pens, and other items.
Once he was made aware of the federal investigation, Garbacz drained his bank account of $50,500 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.
“Parishioners put their faith and trust in this man, and in return, he put their money in his pocket, all in the name of selfishness and greed. Marcin Garbacz not only betrayed the parishioners, he betrayed his fellow priests, so he could carry out his vendetta against the Catholic Church,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “This office will always stand up and help protect victims of financial fraud, and I appreciate the hard work of the IRS, which worked tirelessly to investigate this case and Garbacz’s criminal behavior.”
“While serving as a priest from 2012 through 2018, Mr. Garbacz violated the trust of the members of St. Therese the Little Flower, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Blessed Sacrament for his own personal gain. Now, as a convicted felon, it is time for Mr. Garbacz to face his community and pay back the money he stole from the three parishes plus pay 5 years of unpaid federal taxes to the IRS,” said Adam Steiner, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation division in the St. Louis Field Office. “IRS Criminal Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office remain committed to protect the integrity of the tax system and innocent victims that suffer monetary loss.”
Assistant U.S. 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.
Garbacz was immediately remanded to the U.S. Marshals Service to begin serving his custody sentence.