By Jennifer Leighfield • 25 March 2021 • 23:29
A PRIEST in Barcelona who married a woman to a dead man so that she could claim the inheritance of the deceased has been sentenced to three years in prison.
David Vargas, the former priest of Sant Vicenç de Castellet, had already been excommunicated for other crimes.
He claims that the wedding did take place in a ‘discreet’ ceremony at the request of the bride and groom, but this has not prevented him from being sentenced by Barcelona Provincial Court and fined €1,080 for document falsification.
The events date back to November 2008, when the man died in his eighties and his lawyer explained that, as he was single without direct descendants and had not made a will, his assets would go to his niece and nephew.
He was in a relationship with a woman, also in her eighties but now also deceased, but they were never married.
At the time of his death, his lawyer said he was still single, but given his partner’s concern, she was had usufruct of his assets until she passed away. However, she claimed that they had married in July 2008.
This ‘marriage’ according to the prosecution was falsified by Vargas so that the woman could claim the inheritance of her deceased partner. The prosecutor was asking for eight years in prison for the priest for forging the signature of the deceased on the marriage certificate.
He denied it and the prosecution withdrew the accusation for aggravated fraud and he has only been convicted for document falsification.
The woman’s daughter has also been sentenced to a year and a half in prison and a fine of €540, also for document falsification, as she signed the certificate as a witness.
They will both have to compensate the family of the deceased with more than €200,000 and the Vic Bishopric has been found to have subsidiary civil liability for not overseeing the marriage records and not detecting the irregularities.
Thanks to the trick, the fake bride inherited a house, money and a niche in the municipal cemetery, assets amounting to €490,000. It is unclear if the priest did actually receive money for participating in the fraud.
Vargas had already been excommunicated in 2013 after he was found with €3.5 million which he had got out of wealthy elderly ladies from his parish over a period of 10 years. He went to prison accused of defrauding them to get their jewellery, works of art and property, as well as selling a false relic to a religious order.
When he came under investigation in 2019 and found out that a suitcase with money and jewellery had been found in his home, he attempted to commit suicide by jumping from a bridge in Barcelona. He was saved by paramedics and admitted to hospital with broken bones and contusions. Once he was released from hospital he was remanded in prison.
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Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics.
Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.
…….the root of all evil! Will he still go to heaven?
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