DeWITT −The former director of the Diocese of Lansing's St. Francis Retreat Center embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from three other Catholic priests and used the money to fund his charitable foundation, authorities said.
Fr. David Rosenberg, 70, of DeWitt, was arraigned Thursday in Clinton County District Court on seven felony counts, including embezzlement from a vulnerable adult and obtaining money under false pretenses, court records show.
He is free on a $25,000 personal bond.
The state Attorney General's Office said Rosenberg embezzled about $830,000 from the three priests from January 2018 to December 2020, while he was director of the retreat center. The money went to FaithFirst, a charitable foundation previously known as the Rosenberg Family Corp., officials said in a news release.
Two of the priests prosecutors say were victimized have since died and lived in apartments for retired priests on the grounds of the retreat center, the AG's office said. The other priest still lives at the center, they said.
"Rosenberg accumulated wealth for FaithFirst in part by embezzling money from the elderly priests living at the Retreat Center," the office said in the release.
An attorney for Rosenberg could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rosenberg took senior priest status in September 2021, meaning he retired, said Will Bloomfield, general counsel for the Diocese of Lansing. Rosenberg remains a priest but has no active assignment, Bloomfield said.
"We learned about these charges today," he said. "Of course, they are deeply disturbing. It's particularly disturbing to see a priest accused of a crime, but here, the allegations involve a crime against fellow priests. They are allegations, and we don't know whether they are true or not. But, certainly, it's very disturbing."
Bloomfield noted the alleged embezzlement involves personal activities by Rosenberg and not anything done on behalf of the diocese. No money is alleged to have been embezzled from the diocese, he said.
The attorney general's office indicated it views the diocese as a victim, considering that some of the money alleged to have been embezzled would have been diverted to the diocese at some point, Bloomfield said.
The retreat center sits on a large parcel and is open to the public, he said. Entities can rent the facility, and it's often used for Catholic retreats. Homes for senior priests are located on a corner of the property, away from the retreat center, he said.
Rosenberg faces three counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult, $100,000 or more, and one count each of uttering and publishing, larceny over $20,000, perjury and false pretenses over $100,000, court records show.
The embezzlement and false pretenses charges are the most serious, carrying maximum sentences of 20 years in prison upon conviction.
As a condition of his bond, Rosenberg cannot act as a fiduciary for someone else, a magistrate ordered.
A hearing to determine whether he should stand trial on the charges was tentatively set for Dec. 22.
Contact Ken Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Priest, former director of Catholic retreat center accused of embezzlement