FOX 11 Investigates Update
The L.A.P.D. Tuesday arrested a man they allege has been posing as a Roman Catholic priest for decades, officiating at masses, funerals, and prayer meetings in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Fresno, and Stockton counties. Erwin Mena was wanted for allegedly swindling parishioners at St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Bernard churches out of more than $15,000 for a phony pilgrimage to New York and Philadelphia to visit Pope Francis during his U.S. tour this past summer. He was arrested just after noon in the 1400 block of North Academy in Elysian Park.
Parishioners we spoke to say they “loved Father Mena”, who they described as “friendly” and “charming”. They describe how he started prayer groups and offered to conduct masses. Over the past few years, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles issued warnings about Mena, who also went by the name Mena Castro, saying he was not a priest and that if anyone saw him to report him.
The arrest warrant obtained by FOX 11 Investigates details the charges against Mena: more than a dozen counts of grand theft, several counts of perjury, and practicing medicine without a license.