Local News

Usher Charged With Stealing From Church Collection Plate

Posted January 2, 2007 5:39 p.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2007 9:10 p.m. EST

— After a tip that a 75-year-old usher was stealing church donations, Cary police performed an undercover sting in the middle of Sunday Mass.

According to investigators, James MacCaline, a lifelong member of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary and an usher for about 20 years, may have stolen money out of collection baskets for months. Jimmy Mac, as he's known by St. Michael’s parishioners, was arrested on Sunday.

Police set up 10 hidden cameras in the church and placed themselves in the congregation as the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and last Sunday's Masses were celebrated. The officers added $20 bills to the collection, copying the serial numbers off the money beforehand. MacCaline was arrested during the New Year's Eve Mass.

“It was while the collection was going on right inside the church, as the basket was being passed and the money was palmed into his hand and then into his pocket,” Capt. Dave Wullf of the Cary Police Department said.

Monsignor Tim O'Connor, the pastor at St. Michael’s, said church members began telling him last February that they had witnessed MacCaline stealing money.

When asked why church officials took almost 11 months to contact the police, Wulff said, “It's very possible that they were waiting to have enough evidence themselves to come forward.”

Officials at St. Michael’s said it is unknown how much money might have been stolen or the motive for the alleged thefts.

“He was completely shocked,” Wulff said about MacCaline’s reaction to his arrest.

MacCaline was charged with misdemeanor larceny and is expected to be in court in about a month. He declined to talk to WRAL on Tuesday. The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh also declined to comment on the case.