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Priest admits theft from St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown

Westchester — After a child abuse scandal, Joseph C. McClune of Monsignor, a popular parish priest assigned to St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown, stole more than $ 30,000 parish funds during his term on Thursday. I pleaded guilty to that. there.

McLoone was sentenced by Judge Jacquline Carroll Cody of Common Pleas to be subject to probation under the supervision of a court for five years. The first 90 days must be completed in electronic housing confinement or house arrest.

McClune pleaded guilty to theft for failing to dispose of the necessary funds and for the number of thefts due to illegal doses rated as misdemeanor, church day of the dead donations, priest scholarships, and only He admitted that he had improperly received $ 30,892.50 from a secret church account and was able to access. Some of the money he stole was used for credit card payments and remittances to adult men involved in consensual relationships.

As part of the judicial terms negotiated between the prosecution and his lawyer, McClune was ordered to write an apology to both members of the Parish of St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which he led for seven years. I did. He has been on leave since the parish authorities discovered improper use of church funds in April 2018. He was finally charged in August 2019.

58-year-old McClune, who now lives in Bryn Mawr, said “yes” to a question about the judge’s criteria for his decision to waive his right to a trial, saying almost nothing in Cody’s short court proceedings. Or “No”. On October 12, when Cody asked if he had anything to say about the crime he admitted to committing, he declined.

“I hope you make good use of your talents for others,” the judge told the priest in black with his priest’s collar. “Yes,” he replied.

Kathleen Connell Wright, an assistant district attorney who charged the case, said her office is in court investigating the cases, as well as parish and archdiocese officials on the terms of plea. She said everyone agreed with the ruling.

Wright said the decision to provide probation of McClune instead of demanding prison time for such a serious theft from the church was based on a lack of criminal records. His willingness to accept responsibility for his crimes by pleading guilty. And mutual desire to put the problem in the past and save the parish from further trauma with long trials. Members of the Parish of St. Joseph and Archdiocese officials, including those who oversaw the finances, would have been called to testify in court by either the prosecution or the defense.

Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said the Archdiocese will now begin its own investigation into the matter.

“It is the Archdiocese’s policy not to proceed with formal investigations until law enforcement has completed its work,” Gavin said in an email. “Once the civil authorities have completed the procedure, we can begin a formal investigation. Administrative sanctions against Monsignor McClune will be suspended until the results of the process are available.

“The Archdiocese and the parish are grateful for the resolution of this issue, along with the closure and healing it brings,” he said.

However, a longtime St. Joseph parishioner criticized the ruling, saying that they were “disappointed and tired” of what they perceived as generosity towards the priest.

“McClune was our minister and stole a lot of money from those who trusted him,” said a church member who asked to remain anonymous so that he could speak freely. “To make matters worse, he stole the money given to him by saddening his family. The parish had been waiting for more than three years to see justice offered. Probation and $ 30,000. Repayment is not justice. McClune should be in jail. “

A plea bargain between Wright and Westchester’s defense lawyer Melissa McFati also provided for the return of funds that McClune admitted to have stolen. Complete 300 hours of community service and receive a mental health assessment. Submit a DNA sample. He may also not be financially liable in any parish in the future.

He left the courtroom with his family members after plea. He then declined to comment, standing outside the Chester County Probation Office.

According to the fact that Wright recorded and McClune agreed, his theft was due to three causes:

First, while serving in St. Joseph from 2011 to 2018, he received donations at the annual Day of the Dead collection. It was donated to the parish and used as personal income to receive a $ 13,310 donation on its own. It was against the policy of the Archdiocese and against the intentions of the donor.

Second, McClune regularly doubled the benefits given to parish priests, including himself, from $ 25 to $ 50 to say mass and serve at weddings and funerals. .. He did it without the knowledge of the Archdiocese and took $ 7,410 for himself.

Finally, he sets up a bank account for the “off-book” church where he is the only signer, and uses the funds deposited in that account to make personal credit card payments, “Who is he?” I sent the money to an individual who knows. He was not a parishioner of the church or was engaged in a relationship unrelated to St. Joseph. The total of these thefts was $ 10,172.

When he was arrested, Martin’s affidavit stated that he had stolen more than $ 98,000. The amount stated in the plea was clearly reached through negotiations between the two parties.

A county detective’s investigation into McClune’s financial transactions spring 2018, shortly after it was announced that he was on leave at a mass on Sunday two weeks after Easter and resigned from his position as the leader of the largest St. Joseph. It started in. Catholic parish in Chester County, suspected of illegal activity. Questions from the parishioners swirled around the church for some time after he quit his major service in early 2018.

McClune is popular with many parishioners and was brought in 2011 by the Archdiocese to lead the parish. This is to help stabilize the church after Monsignor Williamlin was convicted of protecting a priest who was accused of sexually abusing children after his arrest. (The conviction was finally overturned and Lynn is awaiting a retrial.)

In a press release announcing the 2019 arrest, DA’s office included information on how McClune’s stolen money was deposited in his “off-book” account.

“The defendant took full advantage of his lack of control over his activity account and used it to fund his personal lifestyle,” the release said. “His lifestyle included beachhouses, travel, food, and spending on adult men he had a sexual relationship with.” He set up with Square and J-Pay. I used my account to send money to a man I met on the gay dating site Grindr.

One of the men identified in the complaint was a current prisoner in a New York prison. When first asked about a man and his payments from October 2013 to February 2014, McClune said that the man was a parishioner of St. Catherine Drexel in Chester and was a pastor before arriving in St. Joseph. I said there was.

But according to Martin, the man wasn’t a member of the parish, or even a resident of Pennsylvania, according to his research. Instead, he lived in New York City and met McLoone at Grindr. The priest said he and the man had formed a sexual relationship and sent him $ 1,200 while in prison.

The judicial transaction does not include any conditions regarding how McClune will make the refund or what payment he plans to make.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rerahan, call 610-696-1544.

Priest admits theft from St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown

Source link Priest admits theft from St. Joseph’s Church in Downingtown

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