The Rev. Orlando Molina of the Rincon de San Lazaro Church in Hialeah was videotaped playing the slots at three Miami-area casinos, The Miami Herald reported. Michel Joseph Pugin, his bishop, said he received a letter from a group in the congregation accusing the priest of stealing but there is no evidence to back up the charge.
"I am surprised. I almost had a heart attack," Pugin said of the video. "Priests cannot be involved in this type of situation, especially in gambling or any other activity that can bring scandal to the church."
The church describes itself on its Web site as U.S. Catholic and Catholic Apostolic and is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Molina, 51, a native of Nicaragua, has been a priest there for 20 years.
Molina said the theft charges are untrue and that he is not a compulsive gambler. He called the suspension unfair.
"It's an exaggerated and unfair decision," he told El Nuevo Herald. "I hope that the case is examined and my innocence is proven."
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