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Ex-Deacon Pleads To Stealing From Michigan Church

GRAND HAVEN (WWJ/AP) - A former West Michigan church deacon accused of taking cash from the weekly offertory basket has pleaded guilty to larceny.

Joseph Finnigan made the plea Friday in Ottawa County Circuit Court. The 73-year-old pleaded to two counts of larceny over $20,000. A count of embezzlement over $20,000 was dropped in exchange for the plea.

As part of the deal, Finnigan has until his sentencing on April 22 to repay $120,000, or the embezzlement charge could be filed again.

The agreement also leaves open the possibility of the church filing a civil lawsuit against Finnigan to recoup civil damages regardless of whether the $120,000 is paid in full.

Finnigan had worked as a deacon at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Grand Haven for 11 years before being fired in November. Church officials say the embezzlement occurred over the course more than one year. An exact amount that Finnigan is charged with embezzling from the church has not been determined, but police say it is "in excess of $20,000."

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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