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Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 06 March 2024
Suspect who stole cash from Queens church while posing as priest may be prolific impersonator

HOLLIS HILLS, Queens (WABC) -- A suspected burglar accused of stealing $900 from a Queens church while posing as a visiting priest may be a prolific impersonator.

The suspect told a priest at the American Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Queens on Sunday afternoon that he was also a man of the cloth visiting the church from Rome.

The priest invited him into the rectory, where he allegedly stole $900 in cash from his bedroom.

Father Peter Rayder said the man must have done his research because he knew their names, used vocabulary a priest would and knew where to go.

"He's a vulture, he's a vulture, gypsy, he knows what he's doing," Rayder said.

Rayder said when he confronted the so-called priest and asked him to show proof, he left. The NYPD said he drove a dark-colored sedan.

"It's very sad that someone is going to come on to any house of worship and just violate everybody," Rayder said.

The Diocese of Brooklyn said a man matching the suspect's description told similar stories at a church in Suffolk County and at Saint Thomas Aquinas in Brooklyn.

They held a meeting Tuesday and the photos were shown to the pastors. An alert went out Wednesday to all clergy regarding the incident with the photo.

Authorities believe the alleged conman's crime spree extends beyond New York.

Police and the dioceses in Houston and Dallas have sent out warnings about similar crimes by a man calling himself Father Martin or Father Guillermo.

He was even caught on camera wearing similar clothing that Father Rayder saw him wearing. Rayder says he's continuing to pray for justice, but also for the alleged crook to see the error of his ways.

Authorities also say the suspect could be the same person wanted in California and Pennsylvania.

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