Minister Arrested For Stealing Wedding Gifts

Wednesday, October 3rd 2007, 2:49 pm
By: News On 6

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Kitty and Shawn Sonnenschein didn't think they had cheap friends.

The couple were married last month at their Portland house. Because they were remodeling the kitchen, they requested gift cards from Home Depot instead of gifts.

But when they looked in the basket they had set out by the guest book, they found only three Home Depot cards. Not wanting to offend their guests, the couple didn't say a word.

``It's been extremely uncomfortable,'' Kitty Sonnenschein, 28, told The Oregonian newspaper. ``You don't want to call somebody and ask them what they got you.''

But over the next week, many of their friends and family began to ask what they were going to buy with their gift cards. That's when they became suspicious that someone might have stolen them.

The newlyweds suspected the Rev. Shey-Rima Silveira.

The couple had a friend who offered to officiate, but they weren't sure his license was up to date. So they turned to the popular Web site Craigslist to find a minister.

Rev. Shey-Rima Silveira advertised ``last-minute weddings'' as her specialty.

``She was wonderful over the phone,'' Kitty Sonnenschein said.

Their friend did officiate, but Rev. Shey-Rima Silveira performed a brief ceremony afterward and signed the certificate to make it official.

The couple suspected the minister because Rev. Shey-Rima Silveira was the only person in the house during the outdoor ceremony, and she seemed out of sorts and anxious to leave.

``We did everything we could to avoid suspicion of her,'' said Shawn Sonnenschein, 41. ``But the evidence was pretty clear.''

Home Depot officials, using credit card numbers, were able to trace the gift cards and discovered that at least four had been redeemed.

Portland police detective Willie Halliburton pulled the store's surveillance tapes, and spotted Rev. Shey-Rima Silveira buying tools and detergent.

Rev. Shey-Rima Silveira denied the theft when confronted by Portland officers, saying the wedding party gave her the cards. But police arrested her Tuesday on an accusation of second-degree theft.

``If you can't trust someone to officiate over your wedding, who can you trust in this world?'' Portland Police Officer Willie Halliburton said.