A priest has been arrested in Philadelphia, accused of steeling more than $98,000 from his church and using the money to pay men he met on the social networking app Grindr among other things.
Chester County detectives started investigating Monsignor Joseph McLoone, formerly of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, more than a year ago after they were alerted to suspicious activity.
McLoone, 56, who had been with the church since 2010, is alleged to have opened a secret checking account in 2011 into which he diverted parishioner donations, which he then used to pay for dinners, travel, and a beach home in Ocean City, New Jersey.
As reported by Philadelphia Magazine, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia conducted their own internal investigation of the priest in 2017 upon noticing missing funds.
Investigators say that when McLoone was confronted by the Archdiocese about the missing money, he admitted to paying for ‘personal relationships’ with other men using the church funds.
According to the police complaint filed in court, the priest sent thousands of dollars to men he met on Grindr using online payment methods such as Square and J-Pay. Authorities claim McLoone spent approximately $3,000 of the stolen money on men he had sexual relationships with, including an inmate at a New York prison, Inquirer.com reports.
The Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced the findings of their yearlong investigation on Wednesday (August 21) and charged the 56-year-old priest with felony theft and related offences.
District Attorney Chief of Staff Charles Gaza said in a statement:
Father McLoone held a position of leadership, and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church. Father McLoone violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph’s for his own personal gain.
Gaza told CBS Philly McLoone was stealing money which had been donated for weddings, funerals and to honour deceased loved ones
The priest allegedly set up an account named ‘The St. Joseph Activity Account’ without the archdiocese’s knowledge. Because of his role as the church’s pastor, McLoone’s actions went unchecked.
In a statement provided to UNILAD, Kenneth A. Gavin, Chief Communications Officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, described the charges as ‘serious’ and ‘disturbing’ and said the Archdiocese will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.
The Archdiocese and the parish will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as the criminal matter enters its next phase. Pending the outcome, Monsignor McLoone remains on administrative leave. Information regarding his arrest will be shared with the Saint Joseph Parish community.
The entire parish of St. Joseph has since been made aware of McLoone’s alleged crimes over the past year. The 56-year-old has been on administrative leave since last spring.
UNILAD has reached out to St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for comment.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).