Feds: Priest lied about cancer in scam to raise money

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Federal investigators say they have probable cause to believe a Starkville priest fraudulently received donations by falsely telling people he had cancer and that his diocese knew that and concealed it.

A Department of Homeland Security special agent wrote in an affidavit that the priest was actually diagnosed with HIV.

Authorities say the priest collected donations and spent the money largely on personal expenses.

The federal agent wrote that the Diocese of Jackson spread the priest’s story about cancer in an email to other priests, continuing the scheme. The agent added that he believes the email was sent to hide the priest’s HIV condition and protect the diocese from negative publicity.

The diocese said in a statement that it’s cooperating with investigators.

No one has been charged in the case. The Associated Press isn’t naming the priest because he hasn’t been charged.

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