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JC deacon who stole from church among grand jury indictments

JC deacon who stole from church among grand jury indictments

November 24th, 2017 by News Tribune in Local News

The Cole County Grand Jury recently handed down several indictments, finding there was enough evidence to send the cases to the circuit courts for possible trial.

Among those indicted was a Jefferson City man charged with one count of felony stealing for allegedly taking money donated to St. Peter Catholic Church while he was serving there as a deacon.

Officials with the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City said Anthony Valdes, 63, was suspended as a deacon. His status as a member of the church is not affected.

The first indication Valdes had stolen church money was May 28, according to a Jefferson City Police Department probable cause statement.

It wasn't until early August that church officials and authorities began the investigation, which found Valdes had been embezzling from the church as early as July 2016.

The church collects money from parishioners during Mass, and that money is placed in bags taken to a safe Valdes had access to.

Since July 2016, when Valdes took over responsibility of transferring money to and from the safe, weekly and monthly totals of contributions to the church decreased. Authorities said video evidence shows Valdes taking the money from the safe.

Although the probable cause statement does not specify how much money was taken, the document notes the amount was more than $750, which makes it a felony crime.

Also indicted was a Jefferson City man charged with abuse or neglect of a child in July.

Terry Jones, 34, was charged after an incident in the 400 block of Hutton Lane.

Two people reported Jones was hitting a 14-year-old with a cord, according to a Jefferson City Police Department probable cause statement.

The victim was found to have severe bruising, lacerations and swelling to the back of her legs. She told officers Jones had caused her injuries.

When questioned by authorities, Jones admitted hitting the victim five or six times with his belt. He said while he was angry at the time of the incident, he didn't feel he had used excessive force.

Also indicted was a Fulton man charged with stealing while working at a Jefferson City business.

Harold Edwards, 55, has been charged with one count of felony stealing.

The thefts at Mr. Convenience on East McCarty Street had been taking place since August, according to a Jefferson City Police Department probable cause statement.

Store security video showed numerous occasions when Edwards would void a sale of merchandise then take cash from a customer. At the end of an evening, Edwards would take cash from the register, walk out of camera view and return shortly afterward. The exact amount of money Edwards is believed to have stolen was not stated in the probable cause statement, but it was believed to be more than $750, which is considered a felony.

When authorities interviewed Edwards, he denied the allegations. Court records show he has multiple past convictions for stealing passing bad checks and forgery.

Also indicted was a Jefferson City man facing multiple charges after an altercation with a Cole County deputy in September.

Jason Williams, 26, is charged with possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest.

Court documents show the incident occurred at the Dollar General Store on West Business 50.

Williams was first seen hiding behind the building by an off-duty deputy, but then he went inside the store.

When he came out, an on-duty deputy talked with Williams and eventually did a pat-down search. He began to resist the deputy, who said he believed Williams was in possession of a rocky substance in his pants pocket. He then ran from the deputy, but after a short struggle, the deputy was able to handcuff him.

During the struggle, a white crystal substance had fallen on the ground. It later tested positive for methamphetamine. Authorities also found a handgun that turned out to have been in Williams' possession.

Williams told authorities he had been out of prison for about four months and was a convicted felon.

Also indicted was a Jefferson City man charged with harassing a Lincoln University student.

David Martin Jr., 22, is charged with first-degree stalking.

The victim was walking to her classes and was approached from behind by a man she did not know, according to Jefferson City Police Department. The man allegedly placed his hands on her waist, turned her around, pushed her against a wall and began to kiss her. The victim said she eventually got away from the man.

The woman said she later began to receive text messages from a phone number she didn't know. The messages were explicit in nature. The photos matched the man who had approached her earlier in the day.

Upon further research, officers identified the man as Martin based on the phone number, as well as the photographs matching his previous arrest photographs.