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Priest sells $53,000 in fake tickets to visit Pope Francis

By Mason White 12:35 PM February 5, 2016
Erwin Mena 

By: Tanya Malhotra
(Scroll down for video) A priest was arrested on a charge of theft after allegedly selling fake tickets to visit Pope Francis, police in California said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that police have arrested 60-year-old Erwin Mena, and was charged with 19 counts of grand theft, eight counts of misdemeanor petty theft and one count each of perjury, procuring and filing false documents and practicing medicine without a license.

Mena allegedly passed himself off as a priest at a pair of Catholic churches in Los Angeles, where he performed Mass, confessions and a wedding.

Mena is accused of swindling parishioners at the Saint Bernard Catholic Church in Glassell Park and Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Highland Park, by selling tickets for a pilgrimage to see Pope Francis during his visit to the country.

Prosecutors said he never made the arrangements and the trip didn’t take place. Total losses are estimated to be $53,000.

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $100,000. If convicted as charged, Mena faces a possible maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.