A Roman Catholic priest was arrested after police said he was embezzling money from a church in Seymour.
Police said 50-year-old Father Honore Kombo allegedly stole money from his parish, St. Augustine Church, which is located at 135 Washington Ave.
The arrest of Kombo comes after a police investigation that started in late April 2015. Police said they had received a complaint from representatives of the Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation.
The complaint stated that Kombo had “misappropriated money, which had been bequest to the parish by a deceased parishioner.”
Police said they believed that the parishioner had left money to the St. Augustine Church “through a series of monetary annuities.”
At first, police said the church thought the parishioner had left the parish four annuities, but during a financial review it was determined there was a fifth amount of money for St. Augustine. Police said the fifth annuity was never reported by Kombo.
Police learned that the paperwork for the fifth amount of money was filed by Kombo.
On May 6, 2013, police said Kombo received “a large sum of money in the form of a check made payable to the St. Augustine Church.” Police said Kombo opened an account at a local bank and “deposited the proceeds from this monetary annuity into this account.”
Police said Kombo then deposited the money from that account into his personal bank account. During their investigation, police determined that Kombo deposited “several other checks written out to St. Augustine Church” into his own account.
On Oct. 18, 2013, police said “Kombo had opened a line of credit account at a local bank in the name of St. Augustine’s Church utilizing the church’s tax identification information.” Police said that Kombo “deposited majority of these funds into his personal bank account.”
Church members said Kombo was one of their favorite priests.
"He came across as a man of the cloth," said parishioner Tom Sarkes.
"It's hard to think of your priest going away. We thought he'd be here for a long, long time," said parishioner Jackie Sarkes.
The Sarkes have been parishioners at St. Augustine for more than 30 years.
Kombo was charged with first-degree larceny, which is a felony. It is unclear how much money Kombo took from the church, however the charge of first-degree larceny means the amount was more than $20,000.
Police said Kombo, who has no previous criminal record, is cooperating with the investigation.
Eyewitness News reached out to the St. Augustine Church, however they did not want to comment on the arrest.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Hartford said “The arrest of Fr. Honore Kombo comes after the Archdiocese of Hartford and St. Augustine's Catholic Church of Seymour filed a complaint with the Seymour police after discovering that funds were missing from the parish. Father Kombo was placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese in July, and in November, he was advised that he could no longer serve as a priest in the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese along with St. Augustine Church will continue to cooperate fully with the police and prosecutor.”
Kombo was released on a $10,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned at Derby Superior Court on March 14.
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