Stealing Was My Sacrament, Luck Was My Lord - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Stealing Was My Sacrament, Luck Was My Lord

Stealing Was My Sacrament, Luck Was My Lord

By Randall Radic


Because there but for the grace of God go, well, just about anybody tired of being broke.

By Randall Radic

Once upon a time, I was a pastor. Or maybe, sometimes, an old Catholic priest. Most of the time in a little town in Northern California.

I preached in an aging church on Sundays and taught Bible study on Tuesday mornings. I lived in a church-owned house a few blocks away.

But I got tired of being poor.

So I forged documents saying I owned the parsonage, and used the property to take out about $200,000 in personal loans. Then I forged papers saying I had the power to sell the church, and sold it to a couple for $525,000.

It was like being drunk — only I was drunk on money.

And how did it feel to be rich? Wish I could answer differently, but it felt great to be rich. Especially after all those years of preaching to fat cats, people who were millionaires while I was making about $1,700 a month.

It was like being drunk — only I was drunk on money.

I drove a BMW 750i. The color was what BMW called pearlescent black with a black leather interior. I vacationed in Lake Tahoe and La Jolla. I drank $150 bottles of Opus One wine. I smoked $25 Hoyo cigars. And I did something I had always wanted to do but could never afford: I painted. I spent thousands of dollars on oil paints and canvases. Then I turned the garage at the house I mortgaged into an art studio.

Gettyimages 112971961

Attorney Michael Babitzke (left) and Randall Radic stand before Judge Richard Vlavianos in Stockton, California, on Thursday, February 15, 2007. 

Source Debbie Noda/Getty

But after investigators started asking about the $102,000 BMW I had bought, I figured it was getting close to falling apart. One day, I was at the bank trying to withdraw $8,000, and the teller told me my account was frozen. The handwriting was on the wall. So I jumped in the black BMW and split. After talking with the police on the phone, I realized I was in a no-win situation. I contacted an attorney and returned. I was arrested in 2005.

I was in jail when I met this dude, another prisoner, in protective custody. He was a sex offender awaiting trial for murdering a woman. He was facing the death penalty. Because of the similarity in our ages, we would converse when we were out of our cells on rec. During the course of conversing, he confessed he had murdered the woman.

I contacted my attorney, who contacted the authorities. A deal was reached. I would plead guilty to one count of embezzlement and be released from prison. In return, I agreed to testify against the dude when his case went to trial.

Now I was a snitch as well as an embezzler.

While waiting around for the dude’s trial, I wrote some books. One was a memoir. Another related the stories of embezzling priests. They didn’t sell very well. Then I wrote one about the Aryan Brotherhood, which sold better. Now I write nonfiction books and make videos for YouTube.

The dude’s trial never took place. He had a “come to Jesus” moment or something. Told the authorities he would take them to where the body was buried. And he did. They all trouped out to the site. He led them right to it. In return for leading them to it, he skipped the death penalty. Got life in prison.

Frankly, I’m glad he fessed up. I was not looking forward to testifying. I would have done it, but just thinking about doing it made me nauseous. Not because I didn’t think he had it coming. He did. It was just the idea of being a snitch.

People lined up to sue me — the couple who bought the church, the title company that insured loans on the parsonage, the real estate investor and the former notary public who signed off on the paperwork for the parsonage.

“He’s very remorseful and regretful about the situation,” my lawyer said. “I think he made some egregious mistakes. But in an imperfect world … people behave imperfectly.”

Boy, is that an understatement. “He made some mistakes.” Yep, I did.

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