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A church hired them to protect thousands in cash, but up to $100,000 is missing, Chicago cops say

Priests arrive before a funeral Mass for Cardinal Francis George on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at Holy Name Cathedral. Two former security guards at Holy Name Cathedral have been charged with burglarizing the historic church
Priests arrive before a funeral Mass for Cardinal Francis George on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at Holy Name Cathedral. Two former security guards at Holy Name Cathedral have been charged with burglarizing the historic church Chicago Tribune

Two former security guards at Holy Name Cathedral have been charged with burglarizing the historic church and stealing as much as $100,000 in collections, according to Chicago police.

Jarrell Patterson, 22, and Artemio Calderon, 25, were each charged Sunday night with one felony count of burglary. They both had worked for Monterrey Security, the cathedral's sole provider of security for the past six years. But at the time of the burglary, only one of them was still been employed by the company.

Patterson and Calderon are accused of using a key to get into the church several times, unlocking a safe that stores collections money and taking cash, police said.

The men were captured on video, police said. The church at State and Superior streets – the seat of Chicago's Roman Catholic Archdiocese – is under nonstop camera surveillance, a church spokeswoman said.

Detectives are still trying to determine the exact amount of missing money, but it initially was thought to be $88,000 to $100,000, authorities said.

The Rev. Gregory Sakowicz informed parishioners in an email on April 24 of the "very troubling news" that church leaders were doing an audit of the collections to determine how much money may have been stolen. "While researching a shortfall in offertory collections, the leadership of Holy Name Cathedral discovered evidence of repeated criminal trespass at the Cathedral offices," the email said.

Over the past several months, church leaders had realized something was wrong when weekend collections were not meeting projections, according to a church spokeswoman. Church officials expected the cathedral, which serves more than 6,000 registered families plus tourists, to collect about $40,000 a week, or $2 million annually, according to bulletins posted on its website.

The donations are collected in a basket passed around at Mass, transferred into a sealed bag and stored in a safe in a locked room before being deposited at a bank.

When donations consistently fell short of projections, church leaders took a second look. In April, for example, the church recorded a deficit in projections every week that ranged from $15 to $5,000, according to bulletins.

On the evening of April 15, a church employee reported that two men were seen coming and going from an area of the church that is not open to the public, according to a police report. The men were seen on video surveillance entering the area six times in April and March, the report said. Videos showed the men using a keypad to go inside a locked room.

Patterson worked for Monterrey until he was fired in January, according to the police report. Calerdon was employed by Monterrey and the church at the time of the report. Both men have required work cards to be security guards in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation's website.

Monterrey, which provides security to such city venues as Solider Field and Navy Pier, was recently spotlighted in a Tribune article that laid out a history of questionable hiring practices.

The company said it determined that one of its guards who worked at the church allowed a former guard who also worked there at one time into an area near the room where the safe is located, a company spokeswoman said. Monterrey has since fired that employee, the company said.

"When it was brought to our attention by our client that a security guard allowed an unauthorized person into an unauthorized area of the building, we terminated him immediately," the company said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for the breaching of any protocols and will take immediate steps to remedy them."

Patterson, of the 600 block of East 87th Place, and Calderon, of the 4700 block of South Damen Avenue, are scheduled to appear for a bond hearing Monday afternoon at the Leighton Criminal Court building.

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