Tougher charges against priest accused of stealing $300,000

| May 4, 2010

The potential penalty a Catholic priest faces if found guilty of theft has increased as a result of DuPage County prosecutors being allowed to alter the wording of criminal charges against him.

The Rev. John Regan, 46, who served at St. Walter's Parish in Roselle from 2006 to 2008, is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from parishioners.

Regan now faces a maximum 30-year prison term if convicted of the 21 financial charges against him. Judge John Kinsella ruled that prosecutors were within their rights to change the wording of the charges to read that the alleged crimes took place "in a place of worship" instead of "from a place of worship."

The word change increases the potential penalty from a Class One crime, which allows a sentence of probation or a four- to 15-year prison sentence, to a Class X crime with a mandatory prison sentence of six to 30 years.

Regan, who has been treated for a gambling problem, allegedly took cash and checks meant as church offerings and put them into his own bank account, said State's Attorney Joseph Birkett. Regan paid off personal credit cards and made ATM cash withdrawals at riverboat casinos, Birkett said.

Regan was placed on administrative leave by the Joliet Diocese in July 2008. He is out of jail on $10,000 cash bond.

"The burden of proof still remains with the state, and they have to prove these new charges, which at this point are still just allegations," Kinsella said.

Regan's trial is expected to be held later this year.

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Category: Church Security

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