By Jessica Mathews /

The former pastor of a local church accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars is heading to trial.

Mark Milatz had been the Senior Pastor at the Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Brighton since 2010. In December of 2018, Milatz tendered his immediate resignation from both the church and from Ordained Ministers of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

In January, the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office authorized a charge of embezzlement of $50,000 or more against Milatz. A probable cause conference was held this week and his case was bound over to Livingston County Circuit Court for trial.

Milatz remains free on a $40,000 personal recognizance bond. The court earlier ordered that he be allowed to leave the state, as he currently lives in Wisconsin.

The alleged embezzlement began in January of 2011. An investigation by Michigan State Police revealed that Milatz transferred money between his personal bank accounts and church accounts. The improprieties came to light after the church’s bookkeeper began noticing unusual charges every month and became suspicious. Milatz is accused of embezzling more than $250,000 from 2011 to 2018, but he couldn’t be charged for some of the earlier alleged thefts due to Michigan’s Statute of Limitations.

Future court dates are pending.