WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A Hubertus man accused of stealing money from the Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary Church in the Town of Erin in Washington County has reached a plea deal in the case against him.
Pierre Valodine, 76, on Wednesday, April 3 pleaded guilty to one count of theft of movable property -- greater than $10,000. A second charge was dismissed but read into the court record. He will be sentenced on June 6.
According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, an investigation began after Valodine was suspected of stealing money from the church while he was sorting and counting money with other volunteers.
"They had noticed that there seemed to be discrepancies from past totals when it came to donations," said Lt. Bob Konstanz, Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Suspecting he wasn't being honest about the counting process, church employees worked with the sheriff's office to set up a sting.
"We had a couple detectives there that were able to monitor the money counting room and the detectives were able to see that this person was physically placing money in his inner coat pocket and his pants pockets," said Lt. Konstanz.
Detectives confronted Valodine.
"He had over $1,400 in his pockets from that particular day," said Konstanz.
Prosecutors said he admitted to taking $50,000 over the course of a year, but Lt. Konstanz said the actual amount was believed to be anywhere between $85,000-$135,000.
The sheriff's office said initially, Valodine said he stole the money to pay for his wife's medical bills, but later said that was a lie and never explained why he really took it.
Lt. Konstanz said he did not appear remorseful. A priest at the church declined to comment.