Southern Ontario priest accused of stealing thousands from his church

| April 22, 2013

LONDON — A former Catholic priest is accused of pilfering $180,000 from his parish.

The OPP charged Rev. Robert Couture, who served at St. Patrick's and Blessed Sacrament churches in London from 1990-2002, with one count of theft over $5,000 after the London diocese contacted police in 2011 to report missing money.

The diocese completed an audit into the finances of Ste. Anne's Parish in Tecumseh in 2010 after Couture, who had been at the church since 2002, took a personal leave of absence. It's diocese policy to conduct an audit anytime a priest leaves a church.

But red flags were raised after auditors found questionable expenses charged to the parish, along with an unknown bank account in the church's name.

"We found a lot of expenses that were outside the norm," said diocese spokesperson Mark Adkinson.

An independent forensic auditor discovered at least $169,000 in missing funds — money that would been used to help the disadvantaged, fund church programs and pay staff

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Category: Church Security

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