A former priest faces prison time for using the money of a disabled man to participate in Internet scams. Cyprian Meier had lost his job with the Bismarck Catholic Diocese for spending parishioners' money in the same kind of schemes.

Meier, 67, pleaded guilty in December to Class B felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult. South Central District Judge Donald Jorgensen is slated to sentence him on Feb. 17. Meier faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

According to court documents, Meier was providing home health care for a 56-year-old Bismarck man from May to October. The Bismarck man, who was paralyzed and died on Dec. 3, reported to Bismarck police in November that he believed Meier had been making unauthorized transactions on his savings and checking accounts.

Detective Chad Seidel spoke to Meier, who admitted to using the other man's money "to fund his addictions to money scams, such as Internet scams," Seidel wrote in an affidavit.

Meier said he would withdraw $300 per day from the man's accounts at an ATM and once pretended to be the other man when he called an annuity company to transfer $8,000 from the man's annuity to a checking account, Seidel's affidavit said.

The Bismarck man went through his bank transactions and showed Seidel which transactions he believes Meier had carried out without his permission. Meier admitted to making 86 transactions, worth $29,008.80.

Meier is a former priest who worked at Mandan's Spirit of Life Catholic Church until former Bishop Paul Zipfel ordered him to resign in 2005. Meier had been using money given to him by parishioners to participate in money-making schemes that turned out to be Internet scams. Zipfel told him to resign after he continued participating in the schemes despite being told to stop. Meier later asked to be released from his vows and left the priesthood.

Reach reporter Jenny Michael at 250-8225 or jenny.michael@bismarcktribune.com.