May 6, 2011
Warrant issued for treasurer who bilked church
By Yadira Betances
Source: Eagle Tribune, Andover, MA

LAWRENCE — The former treasurer of the Seventh Day Adventist Church is being sought by Lawrence police for stealing $106,570 from the church at 54 Salem St.

Police have issued a warrant for Raiffeisen Regalado, 41, for larceny and embezzlement.

Church pastor Domingo Francisco told investigating officer Det. Kevin T. Nigohosian the church contacted the police in 2008 but no charges were filed then because Regalado made an agreement with church officials to pay back the money.

"We tried to talk to him as Christians and he promised to pay it all," Francisco said yesterday. "When he didn't, we had to find other means."

Police Chief John Romero said police are trying to locate Regalado, whose last known address was 46 Cypress Ave., Methuen.

"There's nothing worse than stealing from a church," Romero said.

"It's a real shame because this money was given by members of the congregation for its upkeep."

Nigohosian met with Francisco on Wednesday and the pastor gave Nigohosian a 412-page binder with transactions from Sovereign Bank for 2006-2007, the same time period Regalado served as treasurer.

After an internal audit in 2008, church officials discovered Regalado had made 172 transfers from the church account to his personal account for a total of $106,570, Nigohosian wrote in the report.

Seventy-one transactions were made in 2006 for a total of $53,020 and 101 transfers were made in 2007, for $53,550.

Nigohosian wrote in his report, he contacted the bank and was told Regalado's personal account "was no longer active."

The case at Seventh Day Adventist is the second church embezzlement in the area in about a year.

In January, 2010, Pastor Isaias Rivera was arrested for writing and cashing a total of $102,732 checks from the church's account from 2004 to 2009.

His wife, Viviana cashed three checks in 2005 totaling $24,500, and secretary Kizzella Rivera, (no relation) wrote checks for herself and cashed them for the total sum of $9,500.

The case against the Riveras is still under investigation.