New Brighton man sentenced for stealing from historic Minnesota church

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A New Brighton man has been sentenced to serve 10 years supervised probation, along with 30 days in jail, and will pay more than $110,000 in restitution to a Twin Cities Catholic church.

Christopher Seiple, 48, appeared remotely in Dakota County court Friday for the hearing. In December, Seiple agreed to a deal that required him to plead guilty to three counts of theft by swindle.

New Brighton man pleads guilty to stealing from historic church

Seiple was charged in the summer of 2019 after an investigation into missing money at the Church of St. Peter in Mendota. St. Peter is the oldest Catholic parish in Minnesota.

Seiple worked at St. Peter as the director of operations from July 2018 to May 2019.

In a letter to the court, church leaders explained an audit revealed Seiple began stealing from the church the first week he began working there and eventually took more than $90,000 over the course of his employment.

Despite the financial impacts, church leaders told the court they "whole-heartedly forgive" him.

"We are also deeply committed to keep Chris in our prayers, praying that he is able to fully recognize how much he has hurt our community and be moved to make amends and the changes necessary to get his life back on the right track,"  the letter read.

When given a chance to address the court, Seiple apologized.

"While they will recover all of the money I took from them, there is nothing that I can do to repair the damage caused by my breach of their trust," Seiple told the court over video.

Prosecutors still pushed for the maximum sentence, citing Seiple's history of questionable financial dealings.

5 INVESTIGATES: Man previously investigated for fraud, now charged with embezzling from church

5 INVESTIGATES found Seiple had been previously investigated for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his family, but he was never charged with a crime.

"This is a person who should have learned from that situation in the past," said Dakota County assistant district attorney Mary Russell. "Instead of learning from that situation, he went on to steal almost $100,000 from his employer, from the church."

As a condition of his sentence, Seiple will be required to serve 30 days on home monitoring and later serve 30 days in jail. He told the court he plans to put his home on the market to pay the bulk of the restitution.