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story.lead_photo.caption This 2015 file photo shows St. Peter Catholic Church in Jefferson City, Mo. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

A Jefferson City man has been 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, is currently suspended as a deacon. His status as a member of the church is not affected.

The first indication Valdes had stolen church money was on 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.

St. Peter's 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 this a felony crime.

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