Eleven months after the Ottawa police launched an investigation into financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Ottawa, the former pastor of the parish, Father Joe LeClair, has been charged:
03 July 2012: Former Ottawa parish priest charged with fraud
Father LeClair is facing charges of fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust. According to media reports, police allege that LeClair misappropriated more than $240,000 through cheques issued on church accounts, a further $16,000 of parish funds were unaccounted for, and approximately $20,000 in furniture and household items belonging to the parish were taken by LeClair when left for Southdown to receive treatment for his gambling problem.
I looked up “money laundering” to find out what that particular charge could entail. I realize that Wikipedia isn’t the best source in the world but I did read something there which, tied into what we were told previously of Father LeClair’s trips to the Casino in Hull, Quebec, may make sense. Click here to link to the Wikipedia article. The following is one of a number of different methods of money laundering described in the article:
Casinos: An individual will walk in to a casino with cash and buy chips, play for a while and then cash in his chips, for which he will be issued a check. The money launderer will then be able to deposit the check into his bank account, and claim it as gambling winnings.
According to the 2003 Report of the Auditor General f Canada (Chapter 3—Canada’s Strategy to Combat Money Laundering)
3.8 Money laundering is a form of financial crime. It is the process of disguising or concealing the profits or proceeds of crime to make them appear legitimate. “Dirty money” produced through criminal activity is changed into “clean money.” The criminal origin of the clean money then becomes difficult to trace.
I am sure there will be no lack of media coverage tomorrow and Thursday. I will post it as I see it.
I believe there will be a host of terribly disappointed and/or disillusioned parishioners at Blessed Sacrament when news of the charges gets around. There will also be parishioners who are angry and thoroughly convinced that the charges should never have been laid. Keep them all in your prayers.
Enough for now,