Detroit priest gets tougher sentence for charity theft

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Rev. Timothy Kane will spend at least three and as many as the next 20 years in prison after being resentenced Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court for stealing from a charity for the poor.

Kane — convicted in 2014 of using “straw” applicants to apply for Angel Fund grants through the Archdiocese of Detroit then pocketing some of the money for himself via kickbacks — had originally been sentenced by Judge Bruce Morrow to 12 months in county jail, to be served over a five-year period, during which he’d report to jail in Julys and Decembers and for two additional months.

But the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office thought that sentence was too light, appealed it, and won, prompting Tuesday’s resentencing before Judge Margaret Van Houten.

Kane’s attorney, Steven Scharg, said “we’ll see” when asked if Kane would appeal. He has 42 days to do so.

Scharg said he thought the new sentence was “a little steep” given his client has reported to his probation officer as required, stayed out of trouble and made more than $1,600 in payments toward $131,400 in restitution he owes.

“The first sentence was more appropriate,” Scharg said. “I feel for him.”

Kane, 60, fought through tears as he proclaimed his innocence in a statement to the court, which detailed how his Type 1 diabetes, falling blood sugar levels, and delays in being fed once in police custody contributed to Kane making a confession he shouldn’t have.

“No one took me seriously that I needed to eat,” Kane said. “I can honestly say that I didn’t know what was going on, or what I said.”

But it was Kane’s unwillingness to admit wrongdoing, along with prison-recorded phone calls with a co-conspirator, during which “a different Mr. Kane came to light,” one that presented Kane as not a mere participant but as a “ringleader,” Van Houten said, which made a tougher sentence warranted.

During the phone calls in question, Kane made such statements as “I’m running the show,” said assistant prosecutor Michael Woodyard, who argued Kane’s actions “deserve the most serious condemnation.”

Kane had been serving as associate pastor of St. Moses the Black Parish in Detroit and was removed from ministry in February 2014, according to the archdiocese.

A co-conspirator in the case, Dorecca Brewer, pleaded no contest to embezzlement in October 2014 and was sentenced to five years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

The Angel Fund was supported by an anonymous donor family and operated by the Archdiocese of Detroit. Since 2005, it provided millions in grants to needy individuals and families in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, according to the archdiocese. It was discontinued in 2014.

Van Houten said Tuesday that she thought and prayed and considered all available evidence, including letters of support for Kane, before making her decision.

Van Houten described Kane as “actively in charge,” and said she hoped he would use his time behind bars to assess how things “went awry” in his life.

“I have been punished already,” said Kane, among the last words he spoke on his behalf. “God has me in the palm of his hand. The blood of Jesus has made us all equals.”

Kane was sentenced to 36 months to 20 years for conspiracy to commit a criminal enterprise, 36 months to 20 years for using a computer to commit a crime, two to 14 years for a charge of uttering and publishing and for conspiracy to utter and publish, 18 months to 10 years for embezzlement and conspiracy to embezzle, and will get credit for 54 days of time served.

The sentences will run concurrently, which means Kane will serve between three and 20 years in prison.

Kane was immediately taken into the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“He’s down,” Scharg said of Kane’s spirits after being sentenced. “Who wouldn’t be?”