Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Pastor’s Confession of Embezzlement Admissible Due to Lack of Coercion
Key point. Confessions of embezzlement of church funds to a government investigator are admissible in a future criminal prosecution so long as they are voluntary, and not made during a custodial interrogation unless a Miranda warning is provided in advance.

A federal court in California concluded that a pastor's confession to two IRS agents that he stole over $1 million from his church, and did not report the stolen funds as taxable income on his tax return, was voluntary and not coerced, and was not made during a custodial interrogation. Therefore, the confession was admissible in a criminal prosecution of the defendant, even though he had not been given a Miranda warning. At approximately 1:45 p.m. on the afternoon of October 17, 2012, two special agents of the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit approached a priest (the "defendant") in the parking lot of a Catholic church. As the agents approached the priest, they identified themselves, displayed their badges, and asked whether they could ask him questions regarding his tax returns.

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Posted: December 27, 2016
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