Father Joe’s next court appearance on fraud charges set for Sept. 5

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The Ottawa Citizen

July 25, 2012 10:01 AM

By Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa Citizen

Father Joseph LeClair, 55, was charged earlier this month with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust after an 11-month police investigation into financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament Church.

Father Joseph LeClair, 55, was charged earlier this month with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust after an 11-month police investigation into financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament Church.

OTTAWA — Father Joseph LeClair was not in court Wednesday for his first appearance on fraud allegations.

Lawyer Kim Hyslop appeared on LeClair’s behalf, in lieu of LeClair’s lawyer, Matthew Webber. A justice of the peace set the matter over to Sept. 5 to allow the Crown time to provide disclosure, or the evidence against LeClair.

LeClair was not required to appear in court.

“This is a complex matter and we anticipate there being lengthy disclosure,” Hyslop said.

LeClair, 55, was charged earlier this month with fraud, theft, money laundering and breach of trust after an 11-month police investigation into financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament Church.

The Ottawa police fraud investigated a period of more than five years — from January, 2006 to May, 2011 — and found that more than $240,000 was allegedly misappropriated by LeClair through cheques issued by the priest on church accounts.

Another $160,000 of parish funds were unaccounted for, the police said, while approximately $20,000 in furniture and household items belonging to the parish were allegedly taken from the rectory when the priest left to begin addictions treatment.

LeClair was released after his July 3 arrest on a promise to appear notice. He has always denied taking money from church coffers, and none of the allegations against him have been proven in court.

The Citizen first raised serious questions about financial irregularities at Blessed Sacrament in a story published in April 2011. It revealed LeClair had a casino gambling problem and 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 same story revealed that Blessed Sacrament had few controls on the way in which church money was handled.

Four months after the Citizen published its story, the Archdiocese of Ottawa filed a police complaint based on an audit of Blessed Sacrament’s books conducted by the firm, Deloitte and Touche.

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13 Responses to Father Joe’s next court appearance on fraud charges set for Sept. 5

  1. Sylvia says:

    A little more information here.  We already knew that Father Joe LeClair was not in the courtroom. Now we know that his lawyer Matthew Webber was not there – as is usually the case, one of the foot soldiers was sent in.  And we now also know that this postponement is because defence is awaiting disclosure.  

    “This is a complex matter and we anticipate there being lengthy disclosure,” Hyslop said.

    This will probably drag along for months on end, with many a battle in the offing over disclosure.

  2. MJ says:

    *While it is certainly NOT the main focus of this story I hope some disclosure will be forthcoming as to HOW Fr. Leclaire’s personal mail (CIBC credit card statement) was obtained?

    An inside job to turn him in or a theft from his mailbox? Which is it? Who gave this to the media?

  3. Suzanne Herrick-Lee says:

    *The “someone” probably had stood by and saw what was going on, wasn’t able to be pro active in changing what was happening, so he/she knew the only way to bring change was to bring it forward in the manner in which it happened….. You and others may not like the manner in which it occurred, but this person was probably Fr Joe’s saviour in bringing about counseling and treatment for his gambling addictions….. 

  4. MJ says:

    Very true, however regardless the circumstances you may feel differently too if someone stole your personal mail.

  5. Larry Green says:

    *According to chuech laws Fr. LeClair will be laicized.

  6. Sylvia says:

    I am sure when the time comes we all find out exactly how the information was obtained.  Until then, who blew the whistle and how is all sheer speculation. 

    MJ, you seem intent on finding and shooting the messenger.  Why not thank God that Father LeClair is getting the help he needs?

  7. MJ says:

    *I am grateful for Father Leclaire on all levels – by all accounts he is a wonderful priest. I would in fact be happy to have him as my pastor. Obviously, given his challenges, the handling of money would be a no no, but I do not give up on his priesthood as many others have. With some careful controls, he can easily serve as a pastor.

    He fell. He stumbled. He is weak. Many would love to take his ass out behind the barn and shoot him or toss him from the priesthood. This appears to be the Archbishop’s approach.

    What of justice – but what about compassion, second chances, reconciliation, healing? He could even be an even more effective messenger of the gospel as a broken vessel.

    Lets also remember, ends dont justify means – with respect to the stealing of his personal mail.

  8. Larry Green says:

    *”Ends don’t justify the means.” Is that why priests remain “obedient” ( silence and cover-up for brother pedophiles) at the expense and the well being of innocent children subjected to mass rape and molestation by a church who’s mouth pieces claim the church does nothing wrong when compared to “other professions.”
    “Profession” BTW seems to me to be a relatively new term designated to priests by priests themselves. I think it comes from the “modern” wave of ego-centric so called priests. They want to be recognized and admired for their “great intellectual” superiority, their spiritual power and many have argued that they should also be classed as scientists. It is no longer enough to be merely a vocation or -heaven forbid- a servant. And at the very same time – after they make a fool of themselves- they berate others for placing them on a ‘lofty pedestal .‘ The truth is that they are no more a professional or scientist (except incidentally) anymore than a married person is by virtue of being married. In fact the Catholic church through the collective entity of the priesthood has managed to impress convincingly into the minds of literally millions of people that by virtue of being a priest, one is either a pedophile or the brother and friend of a pedophile. And by virtue of being a priest , one is an enemy of all those “Vipers pit Catholic Haters) who openly express opposition and exposition of the evil that the crumbling ideology no longer has the power or authority to suppress. It’s a stark reality that people like mj and glenny will soon have to come terms with if they want to get out of the evil rut and cross over to the force for good. I am quite sure you that eventually you both will because neither of you have the balls of a captain.

  9. MJ says:

    *Interesting rant – mostly a run-on sentence with no coherence.

    Peace be with you brother!

  10. Larry Green says:

    *

    Strike a nerve there ‘brother?’

    You find it incoherent and at the same time interesting? Did you forget that you have used that “run – on sentence” line every time you are confronted with to much truth to refute? Thats an original line you fool.  You and grinning glenny are so simple minded and transparent. 
    You are obviously oblivious to the meaning underlying the sign of peace and like the rest of your brother priests your use of the term ‘brother’ is completely empty.

      

  11. Larry Green says:

    BTW, why dont you and I get together and openly express each others rants before the people in the streets of downtown Pembroke or Deep River or through the Pembroke Observer. Come out from your cave , you’ll adjust to the light in no time at all mouthpiece.

  12. Larry Green says:

    *Bring brother glenny!

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