The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has suspended a priest from affiliated with St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale after a widow accused him of conning her out of almost $300,000.
According to Tod Tamberg, an archdiocese spokesman, Father Peter Valdez has been placed on administrative leave after Michalena Jones, 79, filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese, complaining that Father Valdez befriended Jones after her husband died in 2003. He convinced her to not only give him $150,000 to purchase a $620,000 home in Downey in 2006 but also to add him to her checking account, from which he made the mortgage payments. He sold the home in 2010 for $330,000, presumably in a short sale.
The lawsuit, which accuses both Father Valdez and the archdiocese of elder abuse and fraud, was filed only after Mrs. Jones’ son placed her in a convalescent home and reviewed her finances. It was filed, according to William McMillan, attorney for the Jones family, after family members informed the archdiocese of the alleged theft but received no action as a result.
Read the original article in the Los Angeles Times.