A man who allegedly stole more than $ 250,000 from Christ-Roi Cathedral in Lubbock has been located in Colombia, and US authorities are calling for his return.
The suspect managed the cathedral donations and his Venmo and PayPal accounts. The rector of the cathedral was not involved in the theft but resigned after its discovery.
Nathan Allen Webb, a cathedral parishioner, had taken on responsibilities at the cathedral, including managing donations and paying bills, in August 2019, according to Everything Lubbock. In March 2021, an attorney for the Diocese of Lubbock “reported that Webb was involved in a fraud scheme to embezzle money” from the cathedral, the FBI criminal complaint said.
Webb faces wire fraud charges. Federal officials have called on the Colombian government to detain him through INTERPOL.
“Webb was embezzling thousands of dollars every month by making unauthorized money transfers from the Venmo (Christ the King) account to his personal Venmo account,” according to the FBI criminal complaint.
For at least part of that time, Webb was in South America.
In March, Father John Ohlig, rector of Christ-Roi Cathedral – along with the parish’s finance committee – allegedly discovered that funds were missing in the cathedral’s bank account and reported it to the diocese, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
“The FBI was notified immediately,” the Diocese of Lubbock said in a June 23 statement. âThe parish and diocese have assisted the FBI in a thorough investigation since that time. The Diocese of Lubbock did not disclose the theft to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
“Father Ohlig is in no way involved in the theft of funds,” said the diocese.
According to the FBI complaint, Fr. Ohlig confronted Webb on March 3. Evidence suggests that Webb closed his PayPal account the same day.
An arrest warrant was issued for Webb on June 10. Webb’s father had assured the FBI that he would fly to Florida and submit to arrest. Although he was scheduled to fly from Cartagena, Colombia to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 14, he did not board the plane.
Prosecutors took all measures to arrest Webb.
Two days after Webb’s scheduled flight, he checked into a hotel in Pereira, Colombia. He was arrested for exceeding his visa. Colombian authorities had planned to deport him but he tested positive for COVID-19, reports the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
On June 10, Ohlig handed in his resignation as rector to Bishop Robert M. Coerver. In his resignation letter, the priest said: âI just think that it is better that the administration of the parish of Christ the King Cathedral and its entities be managed by a different person as the faith community tries to ‘move forward after this unfortunate incident. “
The priest is available for reassignment within the diocese. His new assignment and the appointment of a new cathedral rector will be announced soon, the diocese said.
The diocese and cathedral are working with a third-party finance company “to continue a thorough review of the parish’s financial records and to help put in place improved accounting procedures.”
“Changes in the management of the offices have also been made,” said the Diocese of Lubbock.
The Diocese of Lubbock serves more than 136,000 Catholics in 61 parishes in 25 counties in West Texas, the diocese’s website says. It was created in 1983. Catholics represent about 25% of the population of the territory of the diocese, which has some 530,000 inhabitants.