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Port Aransas priest arrested on felony theft charge

Posted: 7:37 PM, Jun 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-27 20:37:31-04

A Catholic priest formerly of a parish in Port Aransas has been arrested on felony theft charges, an arrest affidavit showed.

Kris Bauta was arrested by Texas Rangers on Tuesday following a monthslong investigation and charged with theft from a non-profit organization.

Court documents showed that investigators were approached by the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi (Church) back in December 2017 regarding Bauta. Church officials had reportedly accused him of continuous theft of a large sum of money from July 2013 to December 2017.

An investigation then found "numerous items that were reimbursed by the Church" which were "actually personal charges of Bausta." Further, checks written from the Church were said to have deposited into Bauta’s personal accounts; while other checks designated for "Hurricane Harvey Relief" were also deposited into Bauta’s personal checking account.

After a forensic audit, Bauta was said to have acquired more than $150,000 from the Church, a nonprofit organization, "without the effective consent" of its leadership, "with intent to deprive the owner of the property." Investigators noted that it appeared the theft was part of a "continuing course of conduct."

Bauta was charged with theft, a second-degree felony, and arrested.

In a statement, the Diocese of Corpus Christi, which oversees  confirmed that Bauta was removed from St. Joseph’s parish in Port Aransas in October 2017 after a "financial audit revealed some irregularities." The church then turned over information to law enforcement and said it cooperated fully with their investigation.