Fake priest accused of stealing from Texas churches arrested in California

The man called himself “Father Martin” at parishes in Dallas and Houston.

Police in California arrested a man this month accused of posing as a priest to steal money from Catholic churches in Texas and around the U.S.

A man calling himself “Father Martin” gained access to parishes in Texas, New York and Oregon, among others, authorities said. At a parish in Houston, he stole $500. At one in New York, he managed to steal nearly $1,000, the Catholic News Agency reported. The man visited six parishes around Dallas last year but did not succeed at stealing money.

This month, the Riverside County sheriff’s office said it arrested the 45-year-old man suspected of scamming the churches. Malin Rostas of New York was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Pennsylvania related to burglary.


The sheriff’s department said in a news release that deputies found a car matching the description of the vehicle connected to the robberies and apprehended Rostas. It turned the case over to Moreno Valley police, who discovered Rostas had just attempted to burglarize a local church.

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Jail records show Rostas is being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, Calif. Additional charges are pending, authorities said.

Moreno Valley authorities believe there may be additional burglary victims and are asking anyone with information or to report a similar case to call 951-486-6700 or their local law enforcement agency.


Last October, a man calling himself “Father Martin” visited two parishes in central downtown Dallas, two in northeast Dallas and two in the southwest part of the diocese, Katy Kiser, communications director for the diocese, said at the time. He gained access to two of the parishes. At one church, he was seen walking upstairs to a private area but the doors were locked.

Parish employees “felt something didn’t seem right,” Kiser said in an email then. “Typically visiting clergy arrive with obvious purpose and knowledge. They must also have a letter of suitability letting us know they are in good standing with their diocese.”