DETROIT — Catholic priest Timothy Kane had a sexual relationship with a Michigan prison inmate, and embezzled money from the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Angel Fund charity to get money for the inmate and his family, according to a confession the priest made after his arrest.
Kane’s confession was read Thursday to a Wayne County Circuit Court jury by Detective Cory Williams, an investigator for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office who arrested the priest at the St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church rectory in northwest Detroit on Feb. 6.
Kane waived his rights to remain silent after the arrest, Williams said.
Kane, 58, met the prisoner, Fonsha Reid, when Kane served as a prison chaplain about 14 years ago and they had a sexual relationship over the last three to four years, according to the confession. Reid was imprisoned for manslaughter from 1994 to March 2009 and then returned to prison for a felony firearm conviction from summer 2009 to mid-June 2014, according to state records.
“I understand I misappropriated funds for Fonsha’s personal needs,” Kane’s confession explained. “I feel bad about what I’ve done.”
“I would use my portion to assist my friend Fonsha with his personal needs,” Kane said in the confession, and also help Reid’s family members by buying them gas and gifts and paying their rent.
Afterward, Kane and his lawyer, Steven Scharg, declined comment. Kane is charged with stealing less than $20,000 in relation to those Angel Fund monies. Kane faces six counts.
In questioning investigator Williams, Scharg sought to suggest Kane’s state of mind at the time of his confession was influenced by the priest’s diabetes.
The Angel Fund was operated by the archdiocese and funded by an anonymous donor, who gave about $17 million between 2005 and 2014 to help urban priests easily pay for emergency needs for poor people.
After Kane was charged earlier this year, the archdiocese said the anonymous donor was discontinuing the fund, although church officials maintained it wasn’t because of the fraud.
Kane’s confession also described how an accomplice, Dorreca Brewer, rounded up acquaintances to use their names and identification so Kane could make false applications for Angel Fund grants.
Other testimony Thursday indicated those grants often ranged from about $1,500 to as much as $5,000. From prison, Reid enlisted Brewer, the wife of another inmate, to be part of the scheme and split Angel Fund monies among Kane, Reid, Brewer and the applicant whose name was used.
Prosecutors reached a plea deal with Brewer last month. She has not yet been sentenced.
Detroiter William Henson testified Thursday that he let family friend Brewer use his name and identification for an Angel Fund grant for $1,500, saying he needed money to pay outstanding tickets and fix the roof. But Henson said he received only $300 from a $1,500 check because the priest, Brewer and an inmate split the rest.
Henson said he never met Kane and “in my heart, I knew it wasn’t on the up-and-up.”
Michigan Corrections Officer Richard Edgerton described listening to between 50 and 100 calls between the priest and Reidfrom January to August 2012. In the calls, Reid said he had friends and relatives whose names Kane could use to make false applications for money from the Angel Fund, so Kane could skim money from the payout.
The taped phone calls recorded Kane describing himself in deep financial straits.
After the prosecution rested, Scharg called Richard L. Hall Jr., 54, who said said he was unemployed and had met Kane through a weekly mass in 2011. Hall said Kane told him the Angel Fund “helps people who are down on their luck and pay back bills.” Hall applied via Kane and several weeks later received a check for $5,000.
“Did he ever ask you for anything back?” asked Scharg. Hall testified that Kane said, “I can’t touch that because it’s from the Angel Fund.”
The trial resumes next week.
An Archdiocese of Detroit spokesman declined to comment.