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Priest accused in church thefts

Priest accused in church thefts

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THE CHIPPEWA HERALD A Roman Catholic priest and a church organist are charged with stealing nearly $10,000 in antiques, altar furnishings and other items from churches in the Stanley and Thorp areas.

The Rev. Glen S. Gardner, 38, 26384 County U, Cashton, and Kurt A Chione, 41, Aurora, Ill., were charged in Clark County Tuesday with five criminal counts of burglary, theft and obstructing police. The men are scheduled to appear in Clark County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The men are charged with burglarizing St. Mary's Czestochowa Catholic Church, W11694 Elm Road, Stanley, and St. Bernard's Catholic Church, 109 N. Church St., in the city of Thorp.

Gardner was substituting in Wausau for a priest who was in Europe to visit Pope John Paul II when St. Mary of Czestochowa Church of Stanley was burglarized Aug. 4, according to a criminal complaint. St. Bernard's was burglarized on Aug. 5.

Gardner told investigators that on Aug. 4 he and Chione went to the Czestochowa church. They wanted to look at the church, but found no one was around and the door was locked. Chione then pulled the door open, the men looked around, and had a conversation about how nice some of the items were.

Gardner said Chione then began taking things from the church and putting them in his van.

Items taken from the Czestochowa church included two candelabra with seven candles each, a ciborium that holds communion wafers, two candlesticks, a free-standing cross and four other candles.

From the Thorp church, Gardner said they took a missal stand, a $9,000 monstrance that displays Eucharist bread and a ciborium. Other stolen items include two vestments and antique linens.

Chione admitted to investigators that he also stole items from a church in Marathon City.

When asked where the items were, Gardner told investigators they were at St. Adalbert's Church in Milwaukee. The items were actually found packaged in six or seven boxes outside the St. Josaphat Basilica in Milwaukee, where the boxes were found last week.

Chione told investigators that it was not his intention to sell the items, but to give them to churches that could use the items.

However, the Rev. Brian Bovve, the head of a church in Rockford, Ill., said Chione is in the business of selling, dealing and trading church items used in masses. Chione has admitted to Bovve in the past that he has taken items from churches, Bovve said.

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