Many people expect that pastors and others who work in the church abide by moral standards and follow the rules. However, we are all human and even those who are considered "godly" can be stricken with immorality. A pastor at the St. Bernadette Parish in Northboro, Massachusetts, was recently accused of stealing $230,000 from the school's funds.
The embezzlement was discovered in July by the advisory board after a review of the school's budget. A bishop from the St. Bernadette Parish in Worcester met with the priest to confront him about the issue, and he admitted he had a gambling problem. The bishop took away the priest's ability to write checks and offered him a leave of absence to seek treatment for his gambling issue.
The 44-year-old priest is accused of using $230,000 for personal use - $120,000 from the parish and $110,000 from the school. Due to the extent of the embezzlement, the case has been referred to the district attorney. The bishop hopes that the entire amount will be paid back to the school.
St. Bernadette Parish, founded in 1997, is a Catholic school for children in preschool up to 8th grade. Other reverends will run the school during the priest's leave of absence. He has been in residential treatment since mid-July.
Embezzlement is a type of theft. There are two main types of theft: petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft is often classified as a misdemeanor and is applied to cases where the amount stolen is less than $1,000. In this case, the priest faces grand theft charges due to the amount of money he allegedly took from the school and parish. Grand theft is often charged as a felony, which means the priest, if charged, could face a lengthy jail sentence ahead of him.
Even though this priest is facing serious charges and possible imprisonment, his arrest does not mean he is guilty. Our justice system provides those charged with a crime the opportunity to prove their innocence in court, and the prosecutors are tasked with proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Everyone facing criminal charges has certain rights, and one of those rights is to be tried by a fair and impartial judge and jury.
Source: Worcester Telegram, "Northboro priest removed in alleged thefts" Shaun Sutner, Oct. 14, 2013