A man posing as a priest who officiated at Mass, funerals, confessions and one marriage was arrested on accusations of having sold fake tickets to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia.
Erwin Mena, 59, faces charges including grand theft and perjury, ABC has reported, adding that he allegedly posed as a Los Angeles priest last year and sold pilgrimage tickets to see the pope during his East Coast visit.
Mena had allegedly been posing as a priest for about 20 years, primarily in Southern California, but vanishing before church authorities could catch him, ABC stated.
“He smiled, talked about how good things were. There was never anything negative,” said retired high school teacher Joaquin Oviedo, a parishioner familiar with Mean, in a related Los Angeles Times article. “He was not a fire and brimstone kind of preacher.”
Specific to the pope’s visit, Mena is suspected of having taken in thousands of dollars in phony ticket sales, according to ABC.
When asked by the LA Times to comment on the charges, Mena said, “Not at this time.”