Prosecutors Say Priest Stole From Church, Spent Money On Beach House & Grindr Dates

Father Joseph McLoone, 56, has been charged with felony theft, according to a Pennsylvania district attorney.

August 23, 2019

Photo by: Mug shot of Joseph McLoone [Chester County District Attorney]

Mug shot of Joseph McLoone [Chester County District Attorney]

By: Mike McPadden

A Catholic priest in Pennsylvania has been arrested for allegedly stealing nearly $100,000 in church funds and spending it on a beach house, luxury trips, lavish meals, and people he allegedly met on the dating app Grindr, according to authorities.

Joseph McLoone, 56, is facing felony theft charges, according to a press release from the Chester County Prosecutor's Office. Authorities allege McLoone funneled money from St. Joseph's Church into a secret account for about six years, beginning in November 2011.

Authorities allege the thefts began a few months after McLoone took over as pastor at St. Joseph's, where he replaced Monsignor William Lynn. McLoone's predecessor was convicted for his alleged role in covering up clergy abuse, according to Philadelphia's WCAU-TV. However, that conviction was later vacated, and Monsignor Lynn was released on bail. He is currently awaiting a retrial.

The district attorney's office claims McLoone opened a bank account labeled the "St. Joseph's Activity Account," into which he diverted donation checks made out to the church.

Prosecutors allege McLoone used the stolen money for expenses related to his beach house in New Jersey, as well as to pay for meals, travel, and other personal expenses.

One specific allegation states McLoone took money collected during the church's annual All Souls Day celebration and converted it into checks written out to himself and other individuals, totaling nearly $40,000.

Prosecutors further allege McLoone doubled the stipend he collected for each mass, baptism, wedding, and funeral he performed.

According to an affidavit from the Chester County District Attorney's Office, McLoone allegedly admitted to investigators he used some of the misappropriated funds to pay for "personal relationships."

The district attorney's office claims McLoone made 10 online payments in 2018 totaling more than $1,200 to Brian Miller, an inmate incarcerated in New York. McLoone allegedly met Miller on Grindr.

Court documents further allege McLoone made 17 payments totaling $1,720 to others he met on Grindr between April 2015 and April 2017.

In February 2018, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia reportedly froze the St. Joseph's Activity Account, and church officials began investigating the parish's financial records. The Archdiocese released a statement saying McLoone, "acknowledged that some expenditures" went to "personal expenses of an inappropriate nature."

In the same statement, the Archdiocese wrote, "These charges are serious and disturbing. The Archdiocese and the parish will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as the criminal matter enters its next phase."

Chester County District Attorney Chief of Staff Charles Gaza stated, "Father McLoone held a position of leadership, and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church. Father McLoone violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph's for his own personal gain."

Melissa McCafferty, McLoone's attorney, told NBC News her client is innocent.

"Father Joe wants, needs, and deserves a lot of pushback," McCafferty said. "These assertions are absurd … This DA's office is notorious for filing charges on suspicions and conjecture. These accusations came about from a private letter sent to his employer, not from anything criminally substantial."

McLoone has reportedly been released on $50,000 unsecured bail and ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on September 18.

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