Saturday, January 9, 2016

Leo McCaughan accused of stealing $400K from church

Leo McCaughan
Shocked parishioners at a Winnipeg church feel betrayed after learning hundreds of thousands of dollars has been stolen from them over a period of five years.

"It's a serious breach of trust and I think the sense of betrayal is going to be quite high,” said Pastor Fr. Phil Daley of the Roman Catholic parish of St Bernadette. The financial issues became apparent during a routine audit by the Archdiocese of St Boniface in late May, 2015. The matter was reported to Winnipeg police two months later.

Leo McCaughan
"It was not apparent at first. It was something that we discovered as we went along,” said Richard Frechette, financial administrator at the Archdiocese. “And the totals kept rising and rising and rising."

According to auditors, the thefts began with small amounts; however, after five years, the sums had risen substantially. They allege $120,000 went missing in 2014 alone. The missing funds include $100,000 earmarked for renovations at the church.

The parish had to cut back on charitable donations in Winnipeg.
Parishioners were told — about 1,500 to 2,000 families — collection money was stolen for years and used to pay for a "lavish" lifestyle.

McCaughan quit his job a few months before the audit, telling colleagues he planned to take a year off before seeking other employment.