A St. Bonifacius man has been charged with burglarizing St. Bonifacius Catholic Church and causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the church’s altar and religious statues, some of which date back to 1902.
Jason Robert Cooney, 28, faces two felony charges in the May 30 incident: second-degree burglary, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, and first-degree damage to property, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, signed by Minnetrista Police Officer Patrick Cummings, a church employee called police just before 8 a.m. May 31 and said someone had broken into the church via the back door and had damaged the altar and religious statues.
Another church official told police that the damage totaled more than $12,000, and that some of the statues were original to the church, which was built in 1902.
Police found clothes left at the scene, including a cell phone and a wallet that contained Cooney’s driver’s license.
Cooney told police later that he was intoxicated the night of May 30 and that he would have walked past the church on his way home from a bar. He identified the clothes as his and said he was willing to pay the church back for the property damage, according to the complaint.
Cooney’s criminal history includes convictions for DWI in 2006 and 2008.
Cooney is free on a $40,000 bond. He is scheduled to make a first appearance on the charges today in Hennepin County District Court.