Nebraska priest accused of threatening his brother gets probation on reduced charges

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GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska — A Roman Catholic priest accused of swinging a piece of lumber at his brother has been given two years of probation on reduced charges.

The Rev. Michael Wetovick, 53, was sentenced Tuesday in Grand Island.

Hall County authorities say Wetovick accused his brother of stealing from him on June 16, 2013, and a fight ensued at their father's home near Alda.

Court records say Wetovick picked up the piece of lumber and swung it at his brother without actually hitting him. The brother, Tim Wetovick, punched the priest in return. Authorities have said the brothers had been involved in a long feud.

In an application for a protection order, Tim Wetovick said his brother had made numerous threats toward him and his family since 2009.

Michael Wetovick originally was charged with terroristic threats, assault and use of a weapon — all felonies. But in a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded no contest to two lesser, misdemeanor charges, and the weapons charge was dismissed.

Michael Wetovick told The Grand Island Independent that he'd examined his issues with his brother.

"I'm at a different place now than I was when this happened," he said. "I've learned not to harbor hate or anger toward my brother, because it is self-destructive." Michael Wetovick didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Wetovick no longer is listed on the parish website as associate pastor at Grand Island's Blessed Sacrament Church. The diocese website lists several assignments for him in the Nebraska Panhandle, where he lives.

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