On April 16, a 79-year-old Flint man was sentenced to 60 months of probation and $698 in fines and court costs. David Lee Thiese Sr. was found guilty of embezzling nearly $37,000 in charitable gaming funds from St. Pius X Catholic Church and School and affiliated groups in Flint.  Thiese previously agreed to repay $36,862 he admitted keeping for personal use from the church’s charitable gaming profits.

Following a Michigan Gaming Control Board and Michigan Attorney General’s office investigation, Thiese Sr. was charged with a felony count of embezzlement of $20,000 to $50,000. Thiese Sr. pled guilty to the charge at a pretrial conference on Feb. 22.

“It’s so important for charities to maintain proper oversight and accounting practices to prevent financial crime,” said Richard Kalm, MGCB executive director.  “It’s unfortunate when MGCB investigators review event results and discover fraud, but we are here to help charities when a crime happens.”

Between 2012 and 2014, Thiese Sr. was listed as the chairperson for 28 Flint-area charity poker events. Thiese Sr. deposited St. Pius X Church’s net profits from charitable gaming into an account he controlled. The charities earned nearly $60,000 in combined net profit from charitable gaming events, but he shared only $22,900 in proceeds with the church. Michigan law requires the entire net proceeds of a charitable gaming event be devoted exclusively to the charity’s purposes.

The charges followed an MGCB investigation of events held at the former Gloria’s Poker Palace, Lucky’s Poker Room and Pocket Aces. Thiese Sr. is the 15th person associated with the three locations to plead guilty to charitable gaming crimes since 2014.


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