Bogus Catholic priest in LA sold tickets to see the Pope

Bogus Catholic priest in LA sold tickets to see the Pope November 20, 2016

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.

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  • Bill Bonk

    What wrong … this guy is only doing what the rcc does. The priests have been ripping off people for centuries. Thats how the rcc is so filthy rich … its the biggest organised crime and pedophile ring in the world.

  • Rick scarbo

    Aren’t all Catholic priests bogus?

  • barriejohn

    “Bogus priest” must be the strangest misdemeanour imaginable. We’ll be hearing about “bogus clairvoyants” and “bogus astrologers” next!

  • barriejohn

    Here’s another one, that’s almost comical:
    “By pretending to be a priest, Fred Brito played with the souls of people who trusted him,” said Father Thomas Zurcher, vicar for priests in the diocese of Phoenix.
    “In doing so he compounded their hurt and shrivelled their spirit. He fakes being nice when in fact he is a mean-spirited person who lives without regard for others.”
    Brito disagreed. “I do feel bad because I was not actually a priest, but on the other hand no priest had ever connected to the Latino community there as I did. Yes, it was a mistake, but I also changed lives. I loved that work.”
    “Played with the souls of people”; I love that. And as for “He fakes being nice when in fact he is a mean-spirited person who lives without regard for others”; I guess you all know what I’m thinking about THAT one!

  • Steve

    Is “Impersonating a priest”actually a legal crime?!

  • barriejohn

    Steve: In America, yes.
    Look up the other things that are alleged to be illegal in Los Angeles. (I can’t vouch for their authenticity.)

  • “You can’t go into a church and pretend you’re a priest.”
    Well… I might disagree.

  • Newspaniard

    I see that the loony UK republicans are out in force today. Monarchists, pay no attention, they are very much a small, though vociferous, minority.

  • AgentCormac

    That’s right, not just anybody can become a priest. You have to have special powers to be a proper priest. Powers such as hearing the voice of a man who might not have existed at all but if he did has been dead over 2,000 years. Then there’s the ability to see invisible fairies in the sky, turn bread into human flesh and perfectly good red wine into human blood. And of course you need to have an eye for young children and an empathy with others who might take that prediliction just a teeny-weeny bit too far. So quite right, too – can’t have any old Tom, Dick or Harry being a priest.

  • Paul

    Anyone that teaches that there is a speacial ghost being a part of a trinity that is a man who is a gawd and incredible dead but alive but dead and coming back to life being and the son of a gawd who is one and the same thing, who cures leprosy with bits of cloth and dead doves …. and ….. and
    Can’t be involved in a bogus scam can they?

  • Gill Kerry

    Bogus priest? Tautology surely

  • Vanity Unfair

    It seems that almost anyone can start their own church in the USA. I have not checked all 51 legal systems. There are distinct, shall we say, tax advantages in registering with the IRS but this does not appear to be compulsory so their definitions can probably be ignored as long as you don’t mind paying tax.
    Buy a diary.
    On today’s date (getting an old diary and pre-dating it would be dishonest- though similar tactics are not unknown in established religions) write, “Having become dissatisfied with existing religious philosophies, I have decided to formulate and promulgate the true tenets of the Church of the Holy Improbable. To further that end I have taken the title of Primate, this being a mark of humility and association with other apes.” I need hardly add that this is better evidence than that available for the foundation of most religions.
    Congratulations, you are now a clergyman and cannot be accused of impersonating one as long as you do not pretend to be part of someone else’s organisation. The fact that your generic clerical garb might look similar is unavoidable.
    “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.”
    That is impersonating a travel agent, surely. Is that illegal? If so, why not charge it? It is also fraud and such behaviour should not be tolerated and certainly would not be in the UK.