'I'm not Bernie Madoff!': Accused church robber Nathaniel Linden 'was just trying to survive'Michael J. Feeney
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, December 23rd 2010, 4:00 AM
W. Miller for NewsNathaniel Linden (below) was arrested while burglarizing St. Philip Neri Catholic Church on the Grand Concourse (interior, above).
The crackhead burglar accused of robbing 11 Bronx churches hotly denied a police account that he said he was out for revenge on pedophile priests.
"I never said any of that! I'm not angry at God!" Nathaniel Linden told the Daily News in a jailhouse interview.
His robberies, he said, were all about finding easy targets so he could pay his Con Ed bill and feed his pets.
"I'm a nonviolent person. I wasn't going to rob a bank. It was just an easy and nonviolent way to get money," he said. "I also robbed a lawyer's office, a dentist's office and a doctor's office. I don't hate God! I don't hate churches!"
Linden, 51, is accused of robbing 11 Bronx churches starting on Nov. 6, two days after he was released from prison after serving five years foran earlier string of church burglaries.
The admitted crack addict was arrested Sunday while burglarizing St. Philip Neri Catholic Church on the Grand Concourse and is being held on $50,000 bond.
Linden insisted he isn't a bad person. When asked if he felt bad taking alms meant for the poor, he said, "I didn't steal millions of dollars. I'm not Bernie Madoff!"
During the interview, he constantly picked at cuts on his right hand and wiped his face repeatedly.
Cops said Linden told them "I started going after churches" because of the Catholic Church's child-molesting scandal.
Cops also said Linden told them he became angry at God after witnessing his mother's murder and spending a "miserable" childhood in foster care.
Linden admitted taking a little more than $100 from one church - in pennies - and snagging some canned Vienna sausage from a church pantry.
"I needed the money. I was just trying to survive," he said. "I didn't have any food."
Besides feeding himself, he said, he had to buy food for his two parrots, his fish and his cat, Prince.
"I love animals," he said. "My cat is like my child."
Linden, who lives in Kingsbridge Heights and has two grown children who live outside the city, said he got a degree in business administration from Iona College in New Rochelle, where he first started doing cocaine at college parties.
Linden said he hoped he could win the lottery someday and pay back those he stole from.
"I'm sorry. I was wrong. I just hope they can forgive me," he said.