Church regains stolen donations
By: Maria Lockwood, The Daily Telegram
A Superior man returned thousands of dollars to the church from which he stole it, but the forgiveness of parishioners may be harder to earn.
Albert Leroy Tyson, 48, pleaded guilty this month to one count of burglary and three counts of misdemeanor theft for a string of collection-plate pilferings from Holy Assumption Catholic Church. An additional four counts of burglary were dismissed.
The weekly thefts started in August of 2007, according to the criminal complaint, and resulted in a $4,000 loss. All but the last incident took place while Tyson was employed as a janitor at the Superior church.
“Al stole money from our parish, but it was really our parishioners from whom he stole,” Bob Chammings, a deacon for the church, wrote in a victim impact statement.
Church members believe the thefts began months before Tyson was caught in October, according to the criminal complaint. Cherrie Kennedy, secretary and bookkeeper for the church, wrote in her victim impact statement that an average of $300 to $500 was taken weekly. Whoever was taking the cash was able to open the heat-sealed bags the church uses and reseal them before putting them back.
Although only three people had keys to the church office, the locks were changed in August to try to stem the thefts. They continued until the church installed a video camera in the office. At 2:15 a.m. on Oct. 15, a week after he quit his job as janitor, Tyson was captured on video tape stealing the offering money, the criminal complaint says. After his arrest, Tyson told Superior police he burglarized the church about eight times with a set of copied keys.
Tyson was sentenced to two years probation on each theft count concurrent. As a condition of his probation, he was ordered to spend 20 days in jail and pay $4,032 restitution to the church. All but $32 of the restitution had been paid as of Feb. 8.
A deferred judgment of conviction was entered on the burglary count.
Kennedy wrote in her statement that she would like to see Tyson stand before church members some Sunday, admit the thefts and apologize.
Chammings wrote that it may take a while for parishioners to make their peace with what happened.
“Al betrayed our trust and though God forgives readily, we find it more difficult to do so,” he wrote.