An intriguing update on the upcoming January 2014 courtdates for Father Joe Leclair
I will post the article here for now:
Is plea deal in works for Father Joe Leclair?
The Ottawa Citizen
20 December 2013
BY MEGHAN HURLEY
Father Joe LeClair was charged with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust in July 2012 after an 11-month police investigation.
OTTAWA — All of the witnesses subpoenaed to testify at the preliminary hearing for Rev. Joseph Leclair have been cancelled, suggesting a plea deal may be in the works.
The witnesses were contacted by Ottawa police Friday — a month before the Jan. 20 preliminary hearing was set to begin — to inform them they were no longer needed.
The Citizen has also learned that several days set aside for the former Blessed Sacrament Church pastor’s preliminary hearing have been cancelled.
Leclair’s lawyer, Matthew Webber, would not comment Friday.
Leclair was charged with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust in July 2012 after an 11-month police investigation.
The police investigation, which covered the period from January 2006 to May 2011, found that more than $240,000 was allegedly misappropriated through cheques issued by the priest on church accounts. Another $160,000 of parish funds were unaccounted for, the police said.
The Citizen raised serious questions about financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament in an article published in April 2011. It revealed Leclair was a casino gambler and that he 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.
The Citizen also discovered that Blessed Sacrament had few controls on the way in which church money was handled. Leclair had the ability to write cheques to himself without receipts, Sunday collections were kept in an unlocked rectory office and often not counted for days, and the church’s finance committee did not meet to review financial statements.
Rob Lewis, a member of the parish finance council, announced in late October that Blessed Sacrament Church had been awarded an insurance settlement of more than $379,000.
The settlement was handed over after the Archdiocese of Ottawa made a claim for the money police allege was stolen by Leclair.
Lewis told parishioners at the time that the settlement helped close a dark chapter of turmoil, embarrassment and anger.
Lewis told parishioners that a reserve fund created for emergencies using a portion of the settlement has already made $15,000 in interest.
The $379,295 settlement was used to clear Blessed Sacrament’s financial deficit and fund repairs and maintenance at the church, hall and rectory, Lewis said.
News that the insurance settlement cleared the church deficit was met with a round of applause at an Oct. 27 mass. At the end of 2012, Blessed Sacrament was more than $64,000 in the red.
An email obtained by the Citizen that was sent to dozens of people this month asked for letters of support for Leclair to be sent to Webber by Jan. 6.
The email asked those who had previously sent a letter to Leclair’s lawyer to send an updated one.
It can’t be longer than two pages, should explain what Leclair has done for the letter writer, their family or the parish and should not discuss the charges or the court case, the email said.
At the end of the email, a parishioner passed on Leclair’s thanks for the support and solicited donations for his legal expenses.
“Over and above legal costs, he is experiencing personal expenses as it draws closer hopefully to an end,” the email read. “If you’d like to send him a Christmas note and help him in a financial way, or just pass on your best wishes, his address is given below.”
An Edmonton address was given, though Leclair has apparently been staying with parishioners in Ottawa.
Are the requests for letters of support for Father LeClair tp be used for a sentencing hearing ?
Witnesses cancelled. And sounds like most if not all days set aside for the preliminary hearing cancelled? I can`t check while I`m away, but it does sound as though the preliminary hearing is no longer a go? Perhaps day one (20 January 2013) will proceed with a plea?
We shall see…
We arrived at our destination safe and sound on Friday evening. Yesterday evening a son and his family from Canada arrived -we truly were happy to see them pull into the drive way. They came very close to cancelling their trip yesterday morning due to inclement weather forecasts for virtually everywhere along their travel route, but they decided to hit the road, and see how they fared. It was not a pleasant drive, but once across the border they successfully steered clear of freezing rain and heavy snow..
With bad weather across much of the country I do hope that those of you who plan to travel for the holidays are as fortunate as we and that you will be able to reach your destination safely.
Enough for now,