FLINT, Mich. — Authorities say Hanumanthaiya Marur, who led major renovations of a Flint-area Hindu temple, embezzled more than $400,000 while he was its director.
The Flint Journal reported that the 76-year-old Indian American is scheduled this month for trial in Genesee County Circuit Court on 21 counts of embezzlement and 16 counts of larceny.
Authorities say charges stem from activities when he was director of Paschima Kasi Sri Viswanatha Temple in Flint Township.
Marur's attorney, Michael Manley, says checks were reimbursement for work Marur did on the temple, including renovations in 2013. Manley says he wants to avoid trial and says he's been in talks with the temple's board and the prosecutor's office.
Made of concrete and white limestone block, the temple stands 65 feet tall and is adorned with representations of 126 gods.
Manley said he hopes to avoid a trial.
"These are disputed claims. We have been working diligently with the temple's board and their attorney, as well as the prosecutor's office to come to an amicable resolution. It is our hope that temple politics will not spill into a courtroom," Manley said.
Detective Sgt. Mark Pendergraff with the Michigan State Police said his investigation revealed that Marur was writing checks to himself and his businesses from the temple's account. He said his investigation into temple finances only went back six years due to the statute of limitations.
Pendergraff said Marur was the primary person in charge of temple finances and allegedly used temple funds to write checks to his businesses and himself.
Marur is also a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by the attorneys for the temple and its members. That case is on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Marur believes a small group of people at the temple made the claims so that they could take over leadership positions in the temple, according to a response his attorney filed in the civil lawsuit.
Marur also has another case open in Genesee County Circuit Court, where last year he pleaded no contest to two charges stemming from writing bad checks.
A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for the purposes of sentencing. Sentencing in that case is pending a resolution in the embezzlement and larceny case, court records show.