Family, Friends Stand Up for Accused Church Usher in Cary
Posted January 18, 2007 8:09 p.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — A church usher accused of stealing money from the collection basket at a Catholic church in Cary had his appearance in Wake County District Court postponed Thursday at his lawyer’s request, but his family was there anyway because they object to his being prosecuted.
James MacCaline, 75, faces a misdemeanor larceny charge and has a new court date of Feb. 15. He is known as Jimmy Mac to fellow parishioners at St. Michael the Archangel church, where he has gone for 31 years.
His family and friends are very disappointed that the church called police instead of them when the thefts came to light. MacCaline, they say, has cancer and may not have realized what he was doing.
“I don't want my husband being marked as a common criminal because he's not,” Lois MacCaline said. “I feel it's the illness.”
She said her husband has liver cancer and sometimes hallucinates.
Eleven months ago, the church pastor said he began hearing reports of MacCaline’s stealing money from the collection basket. Last month, he called Cary police.
Police set up 10 hidden cameras in the church. At the New Year's Eve Mass, they said, a $20 bill they had put in the collection plate wound up in MacCaline’s pocket.
MacCaline’s son, Tom Smith, said, “I don't think my father realizes.”
Anthony Romano, a friend and fellow church member, said he doesn’t understand the church's decision.
“You know, I was thinking, 'Gee, we can't have bingo in our church, but we can arrest people.'”
“I'm very upset that they didn't come to me, come to the famiily and let us know this. this could have been stopped,” Lois MacCalaine said.
The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh says it must protect the donations that parishioners give in good faith and that it has reached out to the family.
The family strongly disagrees.
Romano said the goal should not be prosecution.
“You hate the sin, but you love the sinner. We love him and we forgive him. That's what you do. You're a Christian.”