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Catholic Priest Has Been Charged With Stealing Thousands from Tw - KOAM TV 7

Catholic Priest Has Been Charged With Stealing Thousands from Two SEK Parishes

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ERIE, KANSAS -

The Catholic Diocese of Wichita speaks out after a priest is charged with defrauding two Southeast Kansas parishes of more than a $150,000. Father Thomas Leland is suspected of stealing money from St. Francis parish in St. Paul and St. Ambrose in Erie. Prosecutors say that between 2012 and 2014 Father Leland plotted to defraud the two parishes and the diocese, stealing close to a $151,000 using most of it to fund a gambling habit.

He allegedly embezzled funds by making over-payments to his salary, taking mass stipends from church members, and making unauthorized reimbursements for personal expenses in the church's name.

In a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Communications Director Amy Pavlacka says:

"Our priorities throughout have been to assist and secure the financial well-being of St. Francis and St. Ambrose Catholic Parishes, which we have done, and to help Fr. Leland navigate this difficult time with justice and mercy. Both catholic parishes have turned the page and are thriving under the leadership of their new pastor, Father David Michael Htun."

Pavlacka says Father Leland turned himself into the diocese.

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