The Guardian (PEI)
08 June 2016
Published on January 21, 2014
FILE PHOTO: Father Joe LeClair, left, arrives at the Ottawa courthouse in the company of his lawyer, Matt Webber.
Photo special to The Guardian by Chris Mikula, Postmedia/Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Citizen reporting Rev. Joseph LeClair (Father Joe) pulled over in Guelph during Victoria Day long weekend
The priest, who is originally from Tignish, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2014 to stealing more than $130,000 from an Ottawa area church.
LeClair is the former pastor of Blessed Sacrament in the Glebe area of Ottawa. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 20, 2014 of theft and fraud more than a year after the Ottawa Citizen raised concerns about financial irregularities at the church. The newspaper had discovered LeClair had incurred $490,000 in personal credit card bills during the years 2009 and 2010.
More than $137,000 of those credit card charges were the result of advances taken at Casino du Lac-Leamy.
Ottawa police launched an 11-month investigation. Following that investigation, LeClair was charged.
The Crown argued at the time that LeClair had committed the “highest level of breach of trust”.
However, LeClair’s defence lawyer told the court the widely-loved priest suffered from mounting anxiety that led to heavy drinking. That drinking eventually led to the priest drinking six to eight scotches a night.
LeClair, whose brother is Neil LeClair, a former West Prince MLA and cabinet minister in Premier Robert Ghiz’s government, was sentenced to one year in jail.
Following his release, he was assigned to a parish in Moncton but had a relapse and was later reassigned to Guelph.
LeClair is away from his current church, Saint Joseph, for the next two weeks.
Officials with the Archdiocese of Ottawa told the Ottawa Citizen that church officials were aware of the charges but would not be commenting any further.