Palm Beach Priest, Charged With Shoplifting, Quits Parish

NORTH PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – Members of St. Clare Parish in Palm Beach County might want to check the collection plate, after their priest sent them a letter saying he was leaving his job because he’s accused of shoplifting.

Father Giuseppe Savaia denies the charges, though security cameras allegedly caught one of the thefts on tape. He said he knew of one incident, but learned of a second when he surrendered himself last week to police on the first charge.

He appears to have good taste. He’s charged with the December 2011 theft of a picture frame from Neiman Marcus, a theft which got his photo on a flyer.

When he was stopped in a parking lot 6 days later with two Italian coats and allegedly no receipt, surveillance video showed him walking out of the store with the $400 items. This time, the theft was allegedly from the Neiman Marcus outlet store, where a security person connected him to the first flyer.

He surrendered to police in June, and the Diocese of Palm Beach confirmed it asked the priest to step down to deal with his personal issues.

“I apologize to the Parish of St. Clare for the embarrassment and confusion this has caused,” his letter said. “I ask for your prayers and understanding. Know of my prayers for all of you.”

The priest was charged with grand theft and will face arraignment August 24th.

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