Former Brookfield pastor sentenced for theft of church funds

| July 15, 2010

Waukesha – The former pastor of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Brookfield who was charged this year with the theft of $9,300 in church funds was sentenced Wednesday to 100 days in the county work release jail.

Leonard Van Vlaenderen, 51, of Cudahy was convicted by Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis after Van Vlaenderen pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of felony theft.

Davis left open the option that Van Vlaenderen could serve his jail term in Milwaukee County, where the priest lives and cares for his elderly mother and aunt.

If Milwaukee County authorities agree, Van Vlaenderen could end up serving much or all of his jail term at home on electronic monitoring, officials said.

Davis told Van Vlaenderen to report to the Waukesha County work release jail on July 28 unless arrangements are made by then for him to serve his sentence in Milwaukee County.

Van Vlaenderen was accused of obtaining repayment from the church for computer equipment that had been purchased in March 2006 and August 2006 with a parishioner's credit card but was returned for refunds, according to a criminal complaint filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Van Vlaenderen used receipts from the purchases to request reimbursement from the church, the complaint says.

The parishioner told police she had no idea Van Vlaenderen planned to seek reimbursement.

He also was accused of using church funds to purchase a computer in March 2004 that was given to a Chicago resident, the complaint states.

Van Vlaenderen has been under scrutiny since his arrest in December 2007 on a misdemeanor charge of possessing cocaine. He was convicted of that charge in 2008 and spent a year on probation.

The church began reviewing its finances in December 2007, shortly after the arrest of Van Vlaenderen, who arrived at the church in 2002.

An audit that the church conducted showed that the church lost nearly $128,000 over three years in thefts of cash from its weekly collections, and the audit found a correlation between the missing money and the tenure of Van Vlaenderen.

Van Vlaenderen, who is on medication for clinical depression, said he was sorry for what he did.

"I apologize to the court, to my family, my friends, to the parishioners of St. John Vianney, all of God's people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the hurt and disillusionment caused by my . . . clouded wisdom. Words cannot adequately express my remorse. I did wrong," he told Davis.

 

http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/98450624.html

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Category: Church Security

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