Broward News

North Palm Beach Priest Accused of Stealing $895 Picture Frame Leaves Parish, Asks for "Prayers and Understanding"

Sandwiched between "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "Thou shalt not bear false witness" on one of two stone tablets allegedly presented to Moses on Mt. Sinai, God clearly listed "Thou shalt not steal" as one of the Ten Commandments.

For one Catholic priest in North Palm Beach, however, the warning was seemingly lost in translation.

Rev. Giuseppe Savaia has left St. Clare parish "to tend to personal duress" and clear his name as an alleged shoplifter, according to WPTV NewsChannel 5.

The 43-year-old priest is accused of stealing an $895 picture frame from Neiman Marcus on December 9, 2011. A few days later, the clergyman was arrested at Sawgrass Mills after video surveillance caught Savaia stealing two $400 designer coats from Neiman Marcus Last Call.

"As some of you are aware, two accusations of shoplifting have been made against me for which I maintain my innocence," Savaia writes in a letter addressed to parishioners. "Both incidents occurred in December 2011. I was taken into custody for one in December and not even aware of the other until this week at which time I voluntarily surrendered myself."

Savaia is asking the St. Clare parishioners for "prayers and understanding." If convicted, however, he'll likely be asking a judge for leniency.