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Three charged in St. Isidore's investigation

Original post made on May 2, 2011

Police Chief Steve Simpkins said the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office has charged Kathleen Dake, 58 of Blackhawk; Evelyn Peinado, 64, of Alamo; and Virgilio Lukban, 46, of Danville with 13 counts of embezzlement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 2, 2011, 4:09 PM

Comments (35)

Posted by American, a resident of Danville
on May 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Father Jerry has done an excellent job in not only uncovering the thefts, but also an excellent job in keeping us parishioners updated at Mass and in the church bulletin about the status of the thefts. I hope the diocese does not blame him for somehow being negligent in not having sufficent "internal controls", as it was apparently a highly sophisticated theft, and he is the parish priest, not some CFO of a giant corporation who is expected to be a CPA expert. We have been blessed to have such wonderful priests in Father Jerry, and Father Paul, at Saint Isidore, and I pray that the diocese realizes what a fantastic job they are both doing at our parish. I will continue to donate money every week at mass, and I am confident that the money will be safe and secure and used for proper purposes.

Posted by Good man, a resident of San Ramon
on May 3, 2011 at 6:06 am

I second the thoughts of American. I absolutely support our parish and its priests. The stress and disappointment of uncovering the theft was apparent on Father Gerry's face. I really felt badly for him and hope that with this new Easter season he can feel renewed and continue to do the great work that he does for our church, its members and the community. God bless all the folks at St Isidore's.

Posted by Terri, a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

I agree! We also need to remember that there are people indicated in these crimes who have families who need our support - now more than ever. I look to Father Jerry to help us heal while supporting these families - especially the kids!

Posted by bz, a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I have to tell you, I am so impressed by the nature of the comments about this sad situation! I am not a member of this church, but I would like to acknowledge the wonderful spirit being displayed. Yes, Father Jerry should be congratulated not only for noting the abuse of funds in the first place, but for his leadership in a church which obviously "practices what they preach!"

Posted by Rick, a resident of Alamo
on May 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Maybe these three misguided souls took to heart the saying that "God helps those who help themselves."

And they really helped themselves.....allegedly.

Posted by Katie, a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Every nonprofit organization, including churches, that handles large sums of money should have auditors reviewing the books every quarter. That $580,000 could have done a lot of good for those in need. That the accused live in highly affluent areas is just unconscionable - pure greed. Very sad.

Posted by St. Isidore Parishioner, a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Father Jerry you and Father Paul are wonderful Priest and we support you. Thank you for keeping your parishioners informed about this terrible crime. We only hope these three women receive the help they need.

God Bless You

Posted by Jane, a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Father Jerry has to go. His church, his responsibility. Get a grip..

Posted by parishioner, a resident of Alamo
on May 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm

All the details are not known to the public at this time, even if they worked in unison but this was done over a length of time and was a very sophisticated theft. The money will be returned in the courts.
Father Moran was the one who caught the theft and reported it.
In every area of life, there are always a few..this is true through history. Jane (who commented above) , unless you know the circumstances, don't judge another. Just pray for them and their children.

Posted by Sprtndad, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 7:54 am

Jane is correct – Father Moran must go, the finance committee should be replaced and accountants hired to place the necessary controls in place (which Father resisted due to cost). His removal should not just be on the basis of the theft, but his overall management of the Parish finances. This Parish owes over 2 million to the diocese yet the Parish has embarked on renovating the school library and seismically retrofitting a church which is not legally required. We have repaid NOTHING on this principal debt.

While his updates in church are interesting that hardly qualifies him to manage the Parish finances or this Parish. Further, I question the company line of "highly sophisticated theft". What, from an office manager and maintenance man? Almost 600k and no one noticed? No, Father is not a CFO but SI is loaded with competent accountants, accounting firms, and CFO's that Father could have called upon to build the financial safeguards any church should have, especially one our size. It was his responsibility to manage our money (and his predecessor, Father Cardelli). His catching the thief does not exonerate him from his responsibility to prevent it.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 8:34 am

Sprtndad:I am curious, what do you think is the primary function of our parish priest, father Jerry? Is his primary role keeping track of church funds? Personally, I think his primary role is being the spiritual leader of our parish, in giving thought provoking, relevent, and inspiring sermons, that encourage us to attend mass weekly, and encourage us to be better Christians. Father Jerry, and Father Paul, are both incredible speakers, who always give excellent sermons, and knowing that, quite frankly, I attend church every week, knowing how much I will get from their sermons. In the past, Saint Isidore has had a few other priests, who were good men, but due to language struggles, or other problems, did not deliver effective sermons, and certainly did not motivate me to attend church as much as I should. Is Father Jerry perfect, of course not, he is a man, not a god. But to suggest he needs "to be gone" because of this criminal episode of others, is unfair to him, and is unfair to us parishoners who have benefitted, and will continue to benefit, from his inspiring sermons.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 8:38 am

Unbelievable comments!!

Embezzlements, by and large, are committed by one person. It is rare that a conspiracy of two individuals is found. Even more rare are 3 or more embezzlers part of a scheme. From the initial reports I read I could not tell whether these were 3 independent embezzlements or three in collusion with one another, an extremely rare occurrence, indeed.

When $580,000 is missing, that creates a big hole that is hard to hide. How did these expenses match up to the budgeted expenditures? If there were variances, how were they addressed and explained? Who approved the expenditures?

Want better control over credit card expenses? Don't issue credit cards. Have those incurring expenses on behalf of the organization to charge expenses on their own cards and submit documented receipts & explanations on an expense voucher that goes through a controlled revew process & approval. Too much bureauacracy? Might have avoided fraud through credit cards as that area would be controlled better.

Whether the organization is a church or a small business, the leader must exert leadership and control. As far as financial matters:
If you expect .... you must inspect.

Most embezzlements are perpretrated by just one individual because of the importance to keep the concealment secret. The more people involved, the more likely veil of secrecy will be pierced.

As Carlos Marcello once said: Three people can keep a secret if two are dead.

With over 40 years of regulating, auditing & running financal institutions, these are the typical reactions when a defalcation is uncovered. With 3 people involved, it tells me that no controls were present and the opportunities to steal were wide open.

Leave a laptop and a cell phone in an unlocked car and see how long they stay there.

Posted by Terri, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 8:58 am

I'm also quite upset at where my contributions may have gone, but like many on this thread I'm trying to practice my faith and pray for everyone involved - including those who are the alleged culprits. I don't understand the details of how everything happened but I also look to Father Jerry show me the way toward healing and forgiveness. It sounds like safeguards are now in place to prevent something like this in the future and I think that is important. As a faith community, I feel like we need our current leaders to help us heal - much more than we need a savvy business person to replace Father Jerry.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

Once again, Satan is at work attacking one of our priests. If he strikes the sheperd he scatters the flock.
As members of St Isidore's we support Father Gerry and the assistance he is receiving from the Diocese of Oakland. "Evil" wants to tear down our church and we need to stand firm against it and stand with our priests in this instance.

Posted by Sprtndad, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

American, agreed, Father Moran's primary function is spiritual leader but he also has responsibilty for the school, financial transparency/control, ministries, office staff, etc. There are two parts of this discussion - his spiritality and leadership. There is no disagreement that Father is a very spirtual man which we get (I disagree with your assessment of his sermons - they just aren't very good, inspiring, uplifting, etc.) His leadership, however, is lacking and that's no reflection on Father Moran's spirituality.

Father Moran is surrounded by excellent people and where he is missing the necessary support he can certainly find it in our Parish. He can seek volunteers or hire the expertise. Parish priests are responsible for the ENTIRE organization. Father Moran was brought to this Parish in part due to his financial acumen. Our Parish debt is over 2mm, theft over 500k, we are layering in more expenses without paying off existing school/parish debt. These are areas for which he is responsible and for which he has not measured up.

If, as you assert, he should be solely responsible for being a spiritual leader then he is in the wrong parish. He needs to minister to a parish without a school, debt or other areas for which he is not suited. Again, that is not a view from Satan as implied by other posts, but by a practical, considered view of his God given abilities. He is simply the right priest in the wrong place. Amen.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Sprtndad: I respectfully disagree with your analysis and opinions. First, Father Jerry, has a great sense of humor, and his Irish gift of the gab, combined with his spirituality, lead to top notch, thought provoking, and inspiring sermons that are relevant to every day life, without being "preachy". I also find it refreshing that he has for years now specifically included in prayers at mass "our troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq". I have attended mass, while out of town, at other churches, and have yet to encounter a priest who I consider even close to either Father Jerry or Father Paul, in giving an effective and inspiring sermon. As you probably know, there is a real shortage of priests, and often the priests in the U.S. are from another country where English is really their second language, and while meaning well, they lack interpersonal language skills to be effective. Be careful what you wish for, as if the diocese removes Father Jerry, expect to receive a priest similar to the ones I have encountered at other parishes.

As to Father Jerry's alleged lack of financial Acumen, there is no allegation that he did anything to change the accounting system and checks and balances that were in place when he arrived, that existed for years under Father Cardelli. If Father Cardelli saw no problems, and no need for additional safeguards, why would you assume that Father Jerry dropped the ball in not changing the entire system? As to the debt, it is also my understanding that a great deal of debt also existed under Father Cardelli, and probably as well under the priest before him. Of course, I am concerned about the debt, but using that as a reason to toss father Jerry aside seems unfair, since it also existed under Father Cardelli.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Folks .... You have difficulty separating youe 'heart' from your 'brain'.

Spoken another way, you must separate the ISSUES from the PERSONALITIES.

Some are blinded by the 'personalities'. The Real Life realities are astounding debt (reported to be $2 milliion + and over $600,000 in losses due to EMBEZZLEMENT and associated costs. Were the employees bonded? Has the Church sued them? Watch them sell their homes quickly to try to evade liens acquired by judgment. Need to work fast.

You had NOT 1, NOT 2, but 3 THIEVES here. If the "Leader" is not part of the Solution, he must be part of the problem. Changes NEED TO BE MADE.

The church has been used as a handy ATM for EMBEZZLERS that lived Millon Dollar + homes on Ramona Way in Alamo and Tennis Club Drive in Blackhawk. Who thinks it won't happen again if changes aren't made and strong controls are not implemented.

From my perspective, financial management is out-of-control and I only know what is public information. If no changes are made, would it surprise anyone that the same behavior would recur?

Posted by Holy_Roller, a resident of Danville
on May 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

We shall forgive them of their sins and absolve them of the debts they owe- go forth and sin no more
The word of the Lord

Posted by Bud, a resident of San Ramon
on May 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Just a wee note... The saying, "God helps those who help themselves" is not found in the Bible. Benjamin Franklin is the noted author.

Posted by Sprtndad, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 8:46 am

Bob is dead on. This is about fiscal management, not homilies. I don't know when the stealing started, but it was definitely happening under Father Moran. It may have been under Father Cardelli but that is not yet clear. Suffice it to say, three people (2 employees and 1 outsider) working together to steal is unbelievable. American, it is clear you are a Father Moran loyalist but if you examine the FACTS, just the facts, there was and continues to be a problem. Library remodel (he approved and will cost us what, 600k?), 2mm in debt from school/ministry center/gym expansion (he has done nothing to pay this back), seismic retrofit (he inititated despite no legal requirement to do so), plate collections down, attendance (measured in families, not people) is down, no financial disclosure to parishioners. These are facts.

He's a nice man, just the wrong guy. I do have concerns about a replacement priest, but St. Joan's has a good one as does St. Monica's, St. John Vianney, St. Mary's, and the list goes on. There are capable replacement priests out there. The Bishop needs to act and place Father Moran in a church suitable to his charism.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

Sprtndad: I am trying to be open minded and understand your position. However, I am still not sure from your posts if your primary reason for wanting him removed is the recent embezzlement, or your differences with him on fiscal matters. Prior to the embezzlement issue, did you complain to others that you wanted him removed? If not, logically, it would appear that the embezzlement issue is the real reason you want him removed. Factually, Father Moran did not change the accounting system or checks and balances in place for years under Father Cardelli, and if Father Cardelli saw no need to make changes, why is Father Moran suppose to have ESP and change the long standing system when he arrives? As you noted, we do not even know yet if the embezzlement started before Father Moran even arrived, so factually to hold him responsible for the criminal activities of long time trusted employees is unfair. Remember, it took the police, law enforcement, and the DA approximately 9 months to get a handle on this sophistacted embezzlement scheme before they finally recently filed charges. Is a Catholic Priest suppose to be a super sleuth, a forensic CPA, and immediately be able to connect the dots when it takes trained law enforcement specials approximately 9 months to figure it all out?

If you did complain, prior to the embezzlement issues, what did you complain about? As to the cost of the large gym, the gym plans were approved, and built, before Father Moran even came to our parish. How is that factually his fault? As to the library remodel, he did not unilaterally decide to do this, the parish budget committee and many other parishers made recommendations and marshaled the plan thru. As to church donations being down, a little thing called the worst recession since 1929 occurred the last few years, and donations are down at every place of worship. Again, factually, how is that Father Moran's fault. As to the seismic work, I attend church every week, and I appreciate my donated money being spent to make the church safe in an earthquake, and us parishoners being safe in an earthquake. Factually, how is this a negative reflection on Father Moran.

I respect your opinions, and I assume your views are in good faith, and not due to a grudge you had against Father Moran for some other reason. Changes have occurred now in the accounting system, with more checks and balances in place, and with the news of the criminal charges, it is safe to say that this will not occur again at our parish.

Why not let Father Moran continue to serve our parish, and continue to lead us on our spiritual journey? God bless.

Posted by Sprtndad, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 11:33 am

This reminds me of the current political environment. President Bush (Father Cardelli) is responsible for all the current evils, none of it is my fault/it was inherited President Obama (Father Moran). Quite simply that dog won't hunt.

I'm not talking about the previous administration - all my examples are CURRENT problems, inherited or not. What happened in the past is done and all of it needs to be dealt with NOW. It wasn't and isn't.

I take it you are okay with our debt, adding new debt, lack of financial transparency, decline in church attendance, etc.

I'm sure you're a fine individual, Mr/Ms American, but geez, the church needs leadership. I'll give you a small example - Father Paulson reduced the parish staff headcount during his very brief tenure. He recognized the bloat and expense to our church. By your reasoning, he should not have done anything because Father Cardelli didn't do anything.

We clearly disagree on accountability and leadership. I hold Father Moran accountable for his action/inaction over the past few years. You do not. I find him lacking leadership and you do not.

Posted by Jane, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Father Jerry has to man up and take some responsibility. I know this is not over and the lawsuits and deeper investigations will include Father Jerry.
"Spiritual Leader and head arm twister" for donations. Also the guy who checks the ledger to see who has given enough so their kids can enroll in the school. Disturbing to see many giving him a pass. 600k is a lot of missing bingo cards.

Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I'm sure prior to this any of you posters that knew them would have said what fine, upstanding, righteous Christians Dake, Peinado, and Lukba were, eh?
Oh, and Terri, I think the perp's families already have quite a bit of support. About $580,000 worth!

Posted by Danville Resident, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

To SpritnDad and all Regarding Fr. Paulson..yes he fired reliable and long time honest employees to save money. It was devastating to the employees who were so faithful to the parish and their jobs to be treated in such a come into work one day and be told to pack up their desks and leave with no prior warning. That is Christian treatment! I don't think so!! They have just as many people in the office now that were let go so where is the SAVING MONEY!!! Fr Paulson was only an acting pastor until Fr. Gerry came, and should not have made any changes until Fr. Gerry was officially in the parish.

It is my understanding when Kathy Dake was hired 10 years ago she worked at the front desk as a receptionist and did not have access, to my knowledge of bookkeeping funds. After the reliable and honest employees were fired, Fr. Paulson gave Kathy the bookkeeping job. Perhaps that is where the trouble started. Regardless of who is to blame. I just wanted to make you aware of what happened. Fr. Paulson is partly to blame for this whole mess and he also should be held accountable in some way. By the way it is FR. GERRY not FR.JERRY. His name is Gerard.!!!!

Posted by Sue, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I've been a member of this parish for almost 30 years. This was happening long before Fr. Moran arrived. No checks and balances were in place. St. Isadores has grown to be a large parish and, in my opinion, beyond the scope of Fr. Moran's management skills. I'm surprised Fr. Moran caught this. Too bad we lost Fr. Paulson; not too many priests can deliver an insightful homily AND come with an MBA; it took him about 3 seconds to figure out how to start consolidating debt & invigorating the parish. His focus on the youth and the future were refreshing. Lucky St. Mary's, to have him! In addition to a spiritual leader, we need a pragmatic manager; I don't understand why the huge weekly collections haven't made a dent in paying off the loans; other parishes do much more with a lot less. Fr. Moran hasn't been very open to changing the way a Parish Council or Financial Committee could help. He's very clear on limiting their roles (no wonder no one wants to run for the positions). As to his sermons being inspiring - really? I must be attending the wrong Mass.

Posted by Danville resident, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hi Sue, First of all in commenting about your parish you have lived in for 30 years, how about spelling it correctly. St. Isidore not St. Isadore. As I mentioned in a previous post. Fr. Paulson fired honest employees and devastated them in an unchristian way to save money. Now there are just as many employees as when they were fired. Frankly, any priest that treats employees that way regardless of an MBA does not have my vote. St. Mary's can have him.
I do agree with you regarding the sermons of Fr. Paul and Fr Moran. They are NOT inspiring, too long, and I turn off after about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, I will continue at St. Isidore regardless.

Posted by Tom Grimm, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I was a active member of St. Isidores parish for over 20 years until I moved out of state 3 years ago. I personally know all the people involved in this crime. It has made me very sad. The worst part of this scandal is all the cowards that have made comments on this but are not willing to put their name to their comments. If you have something worth saying, put you name on it. Otherwise it is just more garbage.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

It is really sad for me to read comments from people like Sue, and Sprtndad, and their mean spirited comments toward our parish priest. I love living in Danville, but the one problem with an affluent area like ours is that some segments of the population seem to be so quick to judge and attack others, with no justification. Father Moran is a good man, who has served our parish with honor, and made a positive difference in so many parishioners lives. No wonder there are so few people willing to enter the priesthood. Stay strong, Father Moran, most of your parishioners fully support you, and appreciate the job you are doing. God bless you, and anyone willing to enter the priesthood.

Posted by Perplexed, a resident of Danville
on May 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

1st of all, for all who claim to be in the know - it's Fr. Gerry (short for
Gerard) who is the Pastor of St. Isidore Church - not Fr. Jerry. It's amazing how many people claim to know so much but fail to know the name of the very man about who thet are making these wild accusations.

How many of you 'parishioners' are involved in any way at this parish? Yes, you may contribute a small amount if any but where are you volunteers? Where are the big shot well qualified accountants, lawyers and business people ready and able to volunteer their services to their church? Instead we seem to have arm-chair quarterbacks who know the inner-workings of a large Catholic Church.

I seem to recall that Fr. Gerry has qualified people on his finance committee; people in the 'business'. I also remember him mentioning once from the pulpit or the bulletin the use of a large accounting firm. We don't know the inner workings of this parish. We never should believe the news. They reported that these people embezzled to maintain they're opulent life-styles. I know that the maintenance man, as some on here call him, rents a very non-opulent home and doesn't live in Blackhawk or Alamo.

Embezzlement happens in every size and type of business for various reasons. I can't believe how easy it is to judge and solve all the problems from the small tidbits given to us especially from the news who rarely give an accurate accounting of the facts. Afterall, facts alone aren't interesting enough to keep people tuned-in.

People- wake up and get involved in your church, your community with your neighbors. Quit blaming everyone for an apparent lack interest until there's a juicy story worth your time.

Posted by Sprtndad, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

American, hardly mean spirited - just the facts. Yes, I know them well and qualify as an involved parishioner with a history of leadership both here and the corporate world. I cannot speak to some of the information floating around on this thread but what I have shared is accurate from an insiders viewpoint. Further, the accounting firm mentioned is a local, well respected very competent firm with many Catholic church accounts who was not given the job of setting up controls/auditing our books at a very base level due to the expense. Father Moran's decision, not any one else.

Father Moran has access to competent people. It is his choice to call upon them. The arrangement he makes can be paid or volunteer but he has to delegate and manage that process. Do any of you know how many direct reports Father has? Easy - it's everyone. This is simply a management problem.

Parish priests are being called upon more than ever to delegate their massive workload to parishioners. The Pope has even written about this phenomena. Father has elected not to do that and it was and continues to be a problem. I'm just suggesting that while he's a fine priest, he's in the wrong parish. Nothing more or less.

Posted by Sunny, a resident of Danville
on May 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Dear Tom Grimm,
A lot of people don't want to put their names on comments for their own protection. I don't think they are cowards at all not is it garbage, but opinions that may or not be valid. Some people who are active in the parish might get recrimination if they are known. Commenting like this enables people to voice their opinion in a safe way by being annonymous. Hopefully no one gets obnoxious or mean, and are telling the truth. One can only hope.

Posted by Cousin , a resident of Danville
on May 7, 2011 at 1:33 am

I understand Evelyn Peinado was a very good friend of Father Cardelli and he often attended her lavish parties. She also paid her party help on "Sundays" with "small currency and change"! Doesn't that make you just a little bit curious?

Posted by Humility, a resident of San Ramon
on May 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Stop the gossip and sniping, please! Thank goodness for Mary Magdalene that you were not there to cast the first stone or she would never have been there to see the risen Christ.

I remember hearing a priest speaking on Immaculate Heart radio say that it is a sin to bring scandal on the church. Airing your bickering and name calling like this is not what the Holy Spirit calls us to do and is a form of scandal which needs to stop. How about praying the rosary instead of attacking your key boards with these writings?

Posted by Inman, a resident of Danville
on May 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Humility -

Ah, yes, why should there be any debate about significant issues affecting the church? Better to just let those who are in charge deal with it and just hope that it all works out, right? (Isn't that what allowed this scandal to go undetected for so many years?)

Should we be thinking, involved, caring members of this community, or should we be just sheep?

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