CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Two security guards who worked at Holy Name Cathedral are accused of stealing as much as $100,000 in collection money from the historic Near North Side church during a four-month period earlier this year.
Officials at Holy Name Cathedral, 730 N. Wabash, told parishioners Tuesday that there was evidence of repeated theft to the collections money held in the church’s offices.
Artemio Calderon, 25, and Jarrell Patterson, 22, were each charged with a felony count of burglarizing a place of worship in connection with the missing money, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Calderon and Patterson were both employed by Chicago-based Monterrey Security, which provided security services for Holy Name.
“This is the first time in our 18 year history that a former employee has been arrested for such an incident, which we take very seriously,” Monterrey spokeswoman Becky Carroll said in a statement. “We are greatly saddened that the Holy Name community is experiencing this situation and are hopeful that those responsible for this crime will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The security company has been accused of poor record keeping, inadequate training and background checks, and for hiring employees with criminal backgrounds, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported.
Holy Name has terminated its contact with Monterrey since the burglaries have come to light.
“We respect their decision,” Carroll said.
Patterson was fired from his job with Monterrey sometime between January and April and had no reason to be at the church when he was seen going into the basement safe room on April 14, prosecutors said.
After ushers collect the donations during services, the money is sealed in plastic, numbered bags and then held in a safe before being deposited in a bank, prosecutors said. About 9:30 p.m., Patterson was seen going into the safe room. After spending several minutes inside, Patterson was seen leaving the room and then leaving the church with Calderon.
About 8:40 p.m. the following night, Patterson and Calderon were again seen on video surveillance as they entered the church through a locked door on State Street, prosecutors said. Patterson was recorded going back to the safe room while Calderon went upstairs. After about an hour, Patterson came out and both men were seen leaving the church together, with Calderon holding a paper grocery bag.
A church employee was able to identity both men from surveillance video and a pastor identified each in a photo array, prosecutors said. Holy Name believes the thefts began around Jan. 18, and both men were recored at the church by security cameras in March and April.
Neither man has a criminal background, prosecutors said.
Calderon has been married for four years and lives with his wife and in-laws. He currently works at Men’s Warehouse and is no long employed by Monterrey, his defense attorney said.
Monterrey said it fired an employee two weeks ago after they learned he allowed “an unauthorized individual into an unauthorized area of the building.”
Family for both men declined to comment after the hearing.
Judge Sophia Atcherson said that although the charges, if proven, would be considered egregious, they were non-violent and set bail for both men at $10,000. Calderon and Patterson will each have to post $1,000 to be released while they await prosecution.
Prosecutors additionally asked Atcherson to put both men on electronic monitoring if they post bond, which she denied.
Both were scheduled to appear in court again May 7.