Alleged Phony Priest Arrested for Pope Trip Swindle

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Los Angeles police have arrested a man they say posed as a priest, officiated at Masses, funerals and even a wedding and sold thousands of dollars in phony tickets to see the pope.

Erwin Mena was arrested Tuesday and remains jailed on dozens of criminal charges that include grand theft and committing perjury by filing a marriage license as a priest.

The Los Angeles Times says he declined to comment following his arrest.

Authorities say Mena has posed as a priest since the mid-1990s, appearing at parishes in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Stockton, Fresno and Orange counties, then vanishing before Catholic authorities could act.

Last year, he allegedly swindled some two dozen people by selling them – for cash – phony pilgrimages to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia.

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