Priest Questioned Over Gambling Spree After Deloitte’s Internal Audit

Lucas Gilmore, “Big 4″ observer
April 27, 2011 /

A parish priest in Ottawa, Canada has decided to end his 14-year service to the Glebe church following an internal audit conducted by Deloitte LLP that revealed several controversies involving his gambling activities.

The controversy was first reported by the Ottawa Citizen newspaper which disclosed more than $137,000 in cash advances reflected in the credit card of Father Joseph LeClair at Casino du Lac-Leamy during 2009 and 2010.

The newspaper went on to reveal that LeClair accumulated personal credit card bills worth at least $490,000 and repaid Visa worth more than $424,000 in those same years.

After Deloitte‘s audit that set out early in March, LeClair has been facing questions over the $250,000 worth of checks issued to him by the Blessed Sacrament Parish beginning 2006 through 2010. The internal audit was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

LeClair’s net income is $24,400, including sums he would receive from officiating marriage preparation courses, weddings, funerals, and baptisms. During the relevant period covered by the audit, the priest had the sole authority to issue checks, even to himself.

During those years, LeClair had a weak control over the church’s finances. No meeting with the parish finance committee has ever been done in 2010.

Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast said Deloitte’s internal audit is ongoing, after which the diocesan administration will take prompt and prudent steps if necessary.

Embattled by the controversy, LeClair has announced during his Easter mass that he would be leaving the Glebe church amid the investigation by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa. The decision was made after he consulted his family and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

However, he was not sure whether to relinquish his priesthood, shift to a new career and look for another position in Ottawa or return to his hometown, the Prince Edward Island.

At 53, LeClair had helped the Glebe church get on its feet after a major setback it suffered in the 1990s when the number of churchgoers was declining and the revenues dwindled.

He was able to rebuild the church through reach out programs to the neighborhoods recruiting Catholic students from Carleton University.

LeClair conceded to allegations that he had engaged in gambling activities to remain financially stable, but maintained that he had never used the church’s money.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Kevin Beach, vicar general of the archdiocese, was quoted by the Ottawa Citizen as saying he was not sure if the result of Deloitte’s audit would be made public.

 

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