Published Monday, October 3, 2016 3:32PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 3, 2016 7:36PM EDT
A former Tecumseh priest was sentenced to 10 months in jail after he was found guilty of theft.
Robert Couture must pay back $75,000 for theft over $5000 he carried out while acting as parish pastor at Ste. Anne Catholic Church.
“The restitution represents a fraction of what the Diocese believes was misappropriated by Couture,” the Diocese of London responded in a statement.
“The criminal justice system has taken its course and we hope and pray that today’s sentencing may bring some closure to the parishioners of Ste. Anne’s.”
In 2011, the Diocese of London asked Essex County OPP to open an investigation into the actions of Couture after an independent forensic audit commissioned by the diocese found financial irregularities while Couture was pastor of Ste. Anne’s.
Couture left the parish in 2010 and was granted a personal leave of absence.
Keeping with Diocese of London policy, when there is a change in the pastor of a parish, an audit of the parish’s finances was completed.
Church officials say Diocese of London auditors raised a number questions, including a number of expenses charged to the parish and a previously unknown bank account In the parish’s name.
As a result, an independent forensic audit be completed by KPMG Forensics in 2011, discovering a minimum of $169,000 in missing funds,” said the Diocese of London statement. An insurance claim was filed and the parish recovered the $169,000.
“The Diocese of London believed and continues to believe that we have an obligation to report financial irregularities in our diocese to the police.”
The Diocese said a number of controls have been put in place and enhanced over the years.
Southern Ontario priest gets jail time for stealing from church
Priest sentenced to 10 months in jail and was ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution for embezzling cash
Posted: Oct 03, 2016 3:49 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 03, 2016 3:49 PM ET
Rev. Robert Coulture leaves a Windsor Superior courthouse on Wednesday Dec. 12, 2015. (Joana Draghici/CBC)
A southern Ontario priest was sentenced to 10 months in jail and was ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution for embezzling more than $150,000 from his Tecumseh church.
Rev. Robert Couture was convicted in December 2015 when a jury decided he stole the money from St. Anne Parish to fund a lavish lifestyle that included fine dining and trips to Europe, New York and Disney theme parks.
Church officials hired a company to conduct a financial audit of its books, which showed thousands of dollars went missing between 2002 and 2010.
Ontario Provincial Police said the audit revealed at least $169,000 in irregularities, and Couture was charged with one count of theft over $5,000 nearly two years ago.
The Crown accused Couture of stealing in several ways, including taking money from collection plates and charging fees to funeral homes.