A former Los Angeles church leader was recently accused of stealing over $11 million from a church to purchase a home and a membership for Disneyland’s exclusive (and expensive) Club 33.
KTLA reports that Charles Thomas Sebesta, a 54-year-old former leader of Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist in Los Angeles, was arrested on Monday, August 26, on a federal indictment alleging he made fraudulent payments from the church’s bank accounts and siphoned off proceeds from the 2008 sale of the church’s Hollywood Boulevard flagship location. Currently, Sebesta faces six counts of wire fraud, five counts of bank fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
In a nutshell, Sebesta reportedly forged checks and used his position as board chairman at Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist to steal over $11 million for a decade. And it seems he was quite the Disney fan — or at least. He was a fan of getting into an exclusive Disney eatery since he used some of the stolen dollars to purchase a membership to Club 33, the historic, expensive, and exclusive club at Disneyland Park that has been around for almost as long as Disneyland has.
We’ll break it down if you’re unfamiliar with Club 33. It is an exclusive dining location that started at Disneyland Park in Anaheim but has since expanded to other Disney Parks worldwide. Disneyland’s Club 33 is in an inconspicuous area in New Orleans Square. It’s an exclusive club, so a small percentage of Disney fans can visit and dine there, and it’s pretty expensive. The annual Club 33 fee is around $10,000, and an additional initiation fee of $25,000.
Eater reports that Sebesta spent time at Club 33 wooing entertainment executives and sports professionals with the eatery’s great dining experiences. We’re unsure if Sebesta will be revoked of his Club 33 membership or status.
Club 33 is a bucket-list item for many Disney fans, so we’re not surprised that a former southern California church leader wanted a piece of this elite Disney magic (especially when celebrities and prominent Disney figures are members). But is Club 33 worth stealing millions of dollars to get into? We’re not so sure.
With all of Sebesta’s charges, he could face 250 years in federal prison.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.