TAMPA – A Tampa pastor was found dead of an apparent suicide amid an investigation he had embezzled about $200,000 from his church, authorities said.
The Tampa Police Department said the Rev. Vladimir Dziadek, 56, was discovered by a maintenance worker Monday morning at the bottom of a staircase at the offices of St. Joseph Catholic Church. He had apparently hanged himself with a belt tied to a banister.
A report from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner noted police said Dziadek was depressed after parishioners discovered the alleged embezzlement to fuel a gambling habit. The report said the priest had been removed from administrative duties at the church and was set to appear at a hearing Monday with members.
Frank Murphy, a spokesman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, said the diocesan finance office was nearing the end of its investigation. Murphy said Dziadek was “very well-received” at St. Joseph but had a history of depression.
The medical examiner’s report said liquor bottles and casino vouchers were found in Dziadek’s room, but provided no elaboration. Authorities said no suicide note was found.
“Our detective is in the final stages of the investigation into his death,” police spokeswoman Laura McElory said.
Dziadek was born in Poland and had been a priest for 32 years.
A funeral is set for Monday at St. Joseph. Dziadek is to be buried in Poland.