Church says embezzlement could top $10,000

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
The parish of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre is missing $10,000 in what its lead priest says was embezzlement by a parishioner. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
The parish of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre is missing $10,000 in what its lead priest says was embezzlement by a parishioner. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral is missing $10,000, and the priest in charge said Tuesday an investigation is trying to determine if the amount could be even higher.

In a statement, the Rev. Brian Pavlac said the South Franklin Street church discovered last weekend that a member of the parish “had systematically misappropriated pledge payments and other donations made in our offering plates.” Pavlac said the individual has admitted to embezzling $10,000 in 2017, and the church is investigating if the amount is higher and whether the embezzlement began earlier.

“He (the parishioner) did admit it,” Pavlac said. “We know of $10,000 being missing. We are investigating to determine if more has been taken. We really don’t know how large the amount is.”

Pavlac said the church’s vestry board voted to report the suspected embezzlement to Wilkes-Barre City Police, and did so on Thursday, March 8.

“We believe this was a necessary step, not only to insure the proper investigation of our own case, but to alert other members of the community who may have found themselves in similar situation,” Pavlac said in the release.

Pavlac identified the parishioner. The Times Leader has chosen not to identify the individual, as no charges have been filed to date.

“We’re a church that does a lot of good work in the community,” Pavlac said in a telephone interview. “I do not know the status of the police investigation. Any further criminal charges are up to law enforcement.”

He did say the individual has been offered religious support.

“Despite our dismay at this situation, we will continue to pray that (the parishioner) may seek amendment of life and God’s peace, and that those who love him may be comforted. A diocesan priest is providing him with pastoral care,” Pavlac said.

St. Stephen’s has about 200 members, said Pavlac, who has been the priest in charge since the summer of 2015.

The parish of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre is missing $10,000 in what its lead priest says was embezzlement by a parishioner.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_IMG_4593-2.jpgThe parish of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre is missing $10,000 in what its lead priest says was embezzlement by a parishioner. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

The parish of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre is missing $10,000 in what its lead priest says was embezzlement by a parishioner.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL031518st-stephens1.jpgThe parish of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre is missing $10,000 in what its lead priest says was embezzlement by a parishioner. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.