22 June 2011
By ANDREW DUFFY AND MEGHAN HURLEY
OTTAWA — The longtime accountant at Blessed Sacrament Parish has been fired from his volunteer position by the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
Herve Dejordy, chair of the parish finance committee and the church’s principal bookkeeper, was informed of the move in a letter he received earlier this month.
In an interview Wednesday, Dejordy said he didn’t mind being fired, but was offended by the way it was handled.
“I don’t mind the action,” Dejordy said. “It’s just the fact that they didn’t have the guts to talk to me face to face. I got the information through Canada Post …
“I have been fired a few times, but that was the first time I was fired through Canada Post.”
Dejordy, 79, a retired accountant, has served as church bookkeeper for the past 14 years.
He said he planned to tender his resignation later this year once the diocese completed its audit of Blessed Sacrament’s books.
That audit was launched in March after financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament came to the attention of diocesan officials.
Auditors have raised questions about some $250,000 of cheques issued from church accounts to Blessed Sacrament’s former pastor, Father Joseph LeClair.
Dejordy would not disclose the precise wording of his firing, which came days after the Citizen published a story in which he characterized LeClair as a “one-man band” whose spending faced little or no oversight at the church.
Dejordy revealed that LeClair could write cheques to himself from church accounts without a counter-signature and did not have to submit receipts in order to have a cheque approved.
“I wouldn’t approve anything: if he writes a cheque, I just record the cheque,” Dejordy told the Citizen.
LeClair, who has admitted to a gambling problem, left the parish in late May and later entered an addiction treatment program. His replacement at Blessed Sacrament was named earlier this month.
Msgr. Kevin Beach, vicar general of the Ottawa diocese, characterized Dejordy’s dismissal as part of the renewal process at Blessed Sacrament.
“I think it’s a question of having a renewal so that everybody has a sense of confidence in what’s going on there,” Beach said.
Asked if Dejordy was fired for speaking to the Citizen, Beach said: “Obviously, some of the parishioners have been wondering why he was speaking to the Citizen. But that would have been very much a secondary reason.
“The primary reason is that we needed to restore confidence in the financial and accounting administration for the parish.”
Dejordy, who has worked for private sector firms such as Quebecor and Cambior, said that he might have been more “meticulous” in scrutinizing the cheques that LeClair issued himself from church accounts.
“Maybe there are things I should have done that I didn’t do,” he said.
“You know about the cheques that Father Joe wrote, payable to himself. I should have been more aggressive, maybe, and questioned the expenses.”
Asked if he considered himself a scapegoat for the problems at Blessed Sacrament, Dejordy said: “No, I don’t feel that way, no.”
In April, the Citizen revealed that LeClair received more than $137,000 in cash advances on his credit card at the Casino du Lac-Leamy in 2009 and 2010.
In those years, he racked up personal credit card bills of more than $490,000, much of it through cash advances.
LeClair has repeatedly insisted that he did not use church funds to gamble.
Msgr. Beach could not estimate when the audit of Blessed Sacrament’s books will be completed. He said only that the process is “closer to the end.”