Bogus Catholic priest in LA sold tickets to see the Pope
Erwin Mena, above, has been jailed in Los Angeles for the second time for posing as a priest and ripping off the faithful.
According to this report, in addition to delivered “uplifting” sermons, officiating at baptisms, confessions, funerals and weekly Masses, Mena, 60, was onto a nice little earner – selling bogus trips to see Pope Francis.
After completing an earlier sentence for impersonating a priest and grand theft, Mena, was returned to court on Friday after investigators discovered that he’d repeated his criminal behaviour.
Mena, 60, had been convicted in February this year in connection with his scheme to sell fake trips to see the pontiff and he got out of jail in July.
LAPD Detective Gary Guevara said he arrested Mena on November 2 after confirming he posed as a priest at a church in the Arts District.
With his arms shackled behind his back, Mena appeared Friday in a downtown courtroom and admitted to violating the terms of his probation.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick N Wapner castigated Mena for his dishonesty and sentenced him to 264 days in County Jail.
The judge also imposed a special protective order that bars Mena from coming within 100 feet of an Archdiocese of Los Angeles facility after his release.
The judge said:
You can’t go into a church and pretend you’re a priest. That’s what you got convicted for and when you got out, you did the same thing.
Mena’s public defender, Denise Daniels, objected to such a broad protective order and argued that it put her client in jeopardy since he was being followed by television news reporters. She said Mena could unknowingly violate the terms of the order.
You could be walking next to a Catholic archdiocese location and not even know it.
According to an affidavit filed by Guevara, Mena posed as a priest at St Ignatius of Loyola parish in Highland Park for about five months starting in January 2015.
Mena’s biggest scam, police contended, was selling phony trips to see the pontiff during his visit last autumn to New York and Philadelphia. The trips cost $500 to $1,000, and Mena collected cash from more than two dozen people.
Michelle Rodriguez, a legal secretary, said she paid more than $900 cash for her spot on the trip — and realising it was bogus left her feeling betrayed.
He used us, he stole from us, and that’s it.