DECATUR — A former Decatur man appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded guilty to stealing from a church cemetery association and handed over a check for $33,700 in restitution before he left the courtroom.

James M. Rossi, 50, admitted to an amended charge of theft under $500 from the Calvary Cemetery Association, a Class A misdemeanor. The admission was part of a plea deal negotiated by his defense attorney, Diane Couri, which reduced the charge from a previous count of theft of more than $10,000, a Class 2 felony.

Told that Rossi was living out of state now, Macon County Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith told the defendant, “I am going to insist the restitution be paid today.” Couri assured the judge the check was already in hand.

Macon County Assistant State’s Attorney Christina Mullison said the thefts were detected in August 2017 by the Rev. John Burnett, pastor of Sts. James & Patrick Parish, which oversees the Calvary Cemetery Association.

“He began looking over the financial documents related to the cemetery association, believing that the expenses were high,” Mullison said.

She said Rossi was a contractor for the church and cemetery association (exactly what he did wasn’t specified), but Burnett noticed the amounts he was taking through checks made out to him were excessive.

“They were above and beyond what his contractual salary was,” Mullison added.

Rossi, who made no comment in his own defense during court proceedings, was also sentenced to three days in jail, but he was given credit for three days previously spent in custody. He was ordered pay court costs as well.

A message left with Burnett seeking comment on the case was not immediately returned Wednesday.

2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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