Omaha Priest Gets Probation After Stealing $700k

Fr. Michael Gutgsell, 74, pled in a Douglas County courtroom June 29 to two misdemeanor counts of theft, and was sentenced to two years of probation. The priest was initially charged in December 2021 with a felony count of theft along with the abuse of a vulnerable adult — and could have faced five years in prison if convicted of those charges.

According to charging documents, Gutgsell gave the stolen money, along with hundreds of thousands from his own savings, to an Omaha homeless man whom he apparently believed would pay him back.

The Omaha archdiocese told The Pillar it cannot yet comment on whether the priest will face canonical charges. But Gutgsell is presently prohibited from public ministry, the archdiocese confirmed.

Gutgsell was chancellor of the Omaha archdiocese from 1994 until 2003. He subsequently served as the pastor of several parishes in the Omaha archdiocese.

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