OMAHA, Nebraska — A former chancellor for the Roman Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Omaha has been charged with two felony counts accusing him of stealing a total of more than $285,000 from a former priest and from a Springfield parish.
Father Michael Gutgsell, 73, turned himself in to police on Friday and was briefly jailed before being released on his own recognizance. He is charged with attempted theft and abuse of a vulnerable adult.
Police said in court documents that Gutgsell admitted to taking $106,000 from his former parish, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Springfield, as well as taking $180,000 from the bank accounts of retired Omaha priest Theodore Richling, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s at the time.
Richling, who died in December 2019, was accused of several incidents of sexual misconduct with minors, and in 2020, the archdiocese said an investigation substantiated those accusations. Gutgsell had been assigned power of attorney to take care of Richling in his ailing latter years, including at a nursing home, and was later assigned to oversee the administration of his estate.
The archdiocese announced Gutgsell’s resignation in August, saying a routine audit had uncovered the theft. Deacon Tim McNeill, the current chancellor of the archdiocese, said last month that Gutgsell wrote unauthorized loans to himself during his time at St. Joseph.
McNeill issued a statement Friday saying that the archdiocese would not have further comment on Gutgsell’s case.