OCALA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A volunteer church usher is charged with one count of grand theft and three counts of petit theft after deputies say they caught him on video stealing parishioners' money from the offering baskets. According to Marion County Sheriff's deputies, their surveillance video shows volunteer church usher Mario Condis painstakingly take the money from the church offering baskets at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Ocala and stuff it into his own pockets during the offertory.
When you watch that video, you can hear the priest in the background praying, and if you were able to see parishioners, you would see them praying too, heads bowed, most eyes closed. The 60-year-old Condis apparently is unaware that deputies are nearby as he appears to be taking the cash out of the baskets while sitting in an alcove. According to the arrest affidavit, they were listening to him rummage through the baskets and watching him on surveillance cameras.
According to deputies, members of the church suspect he has done this on other occasions which is why they called deputies. The church's pastor is out of town and unavailable for comment. According to a Sheriff's Office spokesperson, parishioners became suspicious when this usher was attending more than one mass a day, and they just didn't believe he was that devoted.
Marion County Sheriffs Office spokesman Lt. Ryan Robbins says, "It's bold and disappointing that someone would go into a church and take advantage first of all; and then while people are praying and worshipping at that moment."
But according to deputies, that's what Condis did. Their surveillance video was taken on Sunday, during the Spanish mass. When Condis approached the altar, deputies escorted him out of church and into custody.
They said they recovered $349.05 from his pockets. When questioned, deputies say Condis first told them the money was his, then he claimed he was trying to put the money back at the altar. "It's just amazing someone would come into church and be that disrespectful," says Lt. Robbins.
Condis posted $3,500 bond Sunday night and was released from jail.