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Auction held at mansion of late Lansing-area priest accused of embezzling

The Associated Press

Williamston – An auction is underway in the Lansing area at the mansion of a Catholic priest who was accused of embezzling millions of dollars before he died in March while awaiting trial.

There are nearly 1,000 items for sale Saturday, including about 100 pieces of furniture from the six-bedroom home, the Lansing State Journal reported.

“It’s about four sales in one with the amount of stuff that’s out here,” auctioneer Mel White said.

The Rev. Jonathan Wehrle, founding pastor of St. Martha's Church in Okemos, was accused of stealing $5 million from the church.

The Rev. Jonathan Wehrle was pastor at St. Martha Church in Okemos.

He lived in a 12,000-square-foot mansion in Wheatfield Township, near Williamston, which included an indoor pool, an elevator, baby grand pianos, a pipe organ, three sets of washers and dryers and enough kitchen supplies to outfit a restaurant, the newspaper reported.

The Rev. Jonathan Wehrle appears in court in June 2017 for a preliminary hearing over embezzlement allegations at the 55th District Court in Mason.

Wehrle was charged with six counts of embezzling $100,000 or more from his church, although auditors said more than $5 million was missing. Police discovered $63,000 stashed above ceiling tiles.

Wehrle’s attorney claimed he had family money and an agreement with a bishop, now deceased, to use parish money for a private home.