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Former Bemidji priest being investigated for theft, donations

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. - An East Grand Forks priest is being accused of theft of personal property and misappropriation of donations for Africa.

The Crookston diocese has placed an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Father Carlos Velez, on administrative leave.

The East Grand Forks Police Department confirmed it is investigating Velez.

According to an email sent by the diocese of Crookston, the 39-year-old is facing allegations for initiating a special collection without permission and failing to follow internal controls regarding the proper treatment of donations to the parish.

The diocese conducted an investigation of its own and handed the case over to the East Grand Forks Police Department.

Velez was ordained as a priest for the diocese of Boise in 2000 and has been at Sacred Heart for six months. Previously, he served the congregation at St. Philip's Catholic Church in Bemidji.

Both the diocese and Sacred Heart declined to comment.

WDAZ TV reports the details on the investigation are sparse, but Velez is not expected to return to ministry at Sacred Heart or anywhere in the Crookston diocese, which includes Bemidji.