January 10, 2007
A man of the cloth is charged with embezzlement after police say he took thousands of dollars from his parishioners in Louisa county.
A member of the Saint Jude Catholic Church in Mineral said she was shocked, but after finding out realized she missed a few red flags over the years.
Outside the St. Jude Catholic Church things look pleasant. It's just what you would expect when you see a church. What's not expected is what allegedly happened on the inside with the church's leader.
"I thought he was charming. He told a good story. Whenever he wanted something done, he managed to get someone to do it, so he was very good at manipulating people," said Parishioner Terry McElhone.
Virginia State Police have arrested Father Rodney Lee Rodis. He is accused of swindling at least $600,000 from his parishes over a five year period.
"It's an unclassed felony of embezzlement which is the same as a grand larceny. It carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison," said Commonwealth's Attorney Don Short of Louisa County.
Rodis presided over the St. Jude Catholic and Immaculate Conception churches for 13 years.
A parishioner said she never knew any money to be missing, but found it odd for Rodis to pay for everything for the church from another stash.
"He had the freedom to spend money without any accounting. The financing council, when they got that, they would it was from the 'Father's Pocketbook'," added McElhone.
The parishioner's interest was peaked because of an apparent double lifestyle.
"He would come and go, and be away from his parishioners who needed him. Where was he, what was he doing, and why was he allowed so much time on the road?," added McElhone.
Following the arrest, the parishioner said she still had no idea what father Rodis was allegedly doing. In fact, the parishioner is still shocked because she thought her feelings about Father Rodis were personal for her lack of understanding his background and culture.
Father Rodis remains inside the Central Virginia Regional Jail on a $100,000 bond.