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Volunteer accused of stealing $50,000 from Holy Hill

Posted at 2:53 PM, Nov 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-09 23:09:04-05

ERIN -- A 75-year-old man was arrested and charged for stealing thousands of dollars from Holy Hill Catholic Basilica.  

Authorities say Pierre Andre Valodine has been charged with two counts of theft after stealing money from collections taken at Holy Hill, and may be responsible for more than $85,000 that's missing from the church. 

The investigation was conducted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office after Valodine was suspected of stealing money from the church while he was sorting and counting money with other volunteers.

According to a criminal complaint, the church's executive director set up his iPad in the room where they count money and allegedly caught him on video taking some of the cash. 

The church then reported their suspicions to detectives with the Washington County Sheriff's Office, who set up a sting operation. 

They planted bait money in the collections, and set up a live feed inside the room where money is counted. 

Through surveillance, detectives say they successfully caught Valodine stealing money.

"He was basically either putting it inside of his jacket pocket or inside his pants pocket," said Lt. Bob Konstanz, with WCSO. 

Detectives waited for him to leave the room and then asked him to empty his pockets. They counted $1,450 from just that one day, according to the criminal complaint. 

"He initially said he had taken the money to pay for some medical procedures," said Konstanz. "Then the second time he actually said that story was not actually true." 

Valodine admitted to detectives that he may have taken about $50,000 from the church. 

The church estimated that anywhere from $85,000 to $135,000 was taken over the course of a year. The church told detectives Valodine was a money counter during that time frame. 

Valodine faces two charges of theft over $10,000, which each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.