A ROMAN Catholic priest in Connecticut was charged yesterday with stealing $1.3 million (about €1m) in church money over seven years to use for male escorts, expensive clothing and luxury hotels and restaurants.
Police in Waterbury, Connecticut, said the 64-year-old Rev Kevin J Gray was accused of first-degree larceny.
Police said for the past seven years Gray has been spending church money to fund trips to New York and pay for sessions with male escorts, and he also racked up $200,000 in restaurant bills.
Although police believe Gray told his congregation he was battling cancer, detectives have determined he never did.
“I think that’s how he explained his absence from the parish,” said Captain Christopher Corbett, a police spokesman.
Gray is the former pastor at Sacred Heart/Sagrado Corazon Parish in the town. The Hartford Archdiocese last month asked police to investigate after it discovered during a financial review that he might have taken more than $1m for personal use.
He was Sacred Heart’s pastor from January 2003 until April 15, when he was granted a medical leave. He was later suspended but still lives there.
Gray was arrested and charged with first-degree larceny, Waterbury police said.
Gray, 64, used the money to stay at such hotels as the Waldorf-Astoria and on expensive clothing labels, including Armani suits and Brooks Brothers, said Captain Corbett.
He also paid the college tuition and rent of two men he had met, Corbett said.
“We are deeply saddened by the events which have recently had such a profound affect on Sacred Heart/Sagrado Corazon parish,” the Archdiocese of Hartford said in a statement.
“At the spiritual level, we continue to pray for healing and consolation for the parish family as it moves forward and for guidance and reconciliation for Fr Gray as he encounters the legal proceedings that await him,” the statement said.
The archdiocese last month asked police to investigate after it discovered the money was missing. The money involved a combination of parish savings and money that should have been used to pay debts such as insurance premiums, church officials have said.
Gray surrendered to police yesterday. If he is found guilty of first-degree larceny, it could lead to 20 years in prison.
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