A Stratford pastor is accused of stealing from his own parishioner. But now other members of the church are coming to Robert Genevitcz' defense.
The pastor of the Stratford Baptist Church has been arrested, charged with stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly parishioner.
Robert Genevicz, 67, has been charged with first-degree larceny and turned himself in to police on Tuesday. He has been released on a $50,000 bond.
Police launched an investigation into Genevicz in May 2013 after more than $170,000 disappeared from the account of a parishioner. Genevicz had been appointed power of attorney and then conservator for the elderly woman.
Attorney Joseph Mager, the victim's current conservator, said the investigation started when a probate judge noticed inconsistencies in Genevicz's financial reporting and a forensic accountant studied the transactions.
“After an evidentiary hearing, a probate judge had ordered that $103,000 was missing from the estate,” Mager said.
However, a news release from police said investigators were able to link Genevicz to the theft of more than $170,000.
Mager said Genevicz was ordered to repay that amount in 30 days. When he didn't, Mager filed a civil lawsuit against Genevicz to try to get the woman's money back.
“It's just awful for this poor woman. Right now, she's in an assisted living facility and her money is dwindling very quickly,” Mager said.
Mager said he's going to be investigating this new criminal case to see if there was even more money taken from the woman that he didn't know about. He says he’s also heard that police are investigating to see if there are other victims.
Parishioners at Stratford Baptist Church were stunned by the allegations.
“He's a great man. Very good. He helps people out,” said Jean Phiri. "I just don't believe this. I don't."
NBC Connecticut attempted to reach Genevicz at the Stratford Baptist Church, but we were told he was not available.
“No comments are being made about this at all, and the pastor's not available,” said Robert Yakoubian, a church trustee.