CRESSKILL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There is a feeling of betrayal of trust in Bergen County after parishioners learned Friday a long time deacon at their church stands accused accused of robbing funds intended for the poor.
The victims are the people who attend well-kept Saint Therese Lisieux Catholic Church, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.
The alleged thief is former deacon John Loobey, who helped the priests run the place for six years.
“He assisted the pastor with different things, different duties,” gardener Skip Galliano said.
One of the jobs the former deacon performed was to administer a special bank fund the church kept to help needy parishioners. The Bergen County Prosecutor said he used the account to pay his personal credit card bills, buy airline tickets and make liberal use of an ATM card. In all, $53,000 is missing.
“I’m a Catholic and I’m shocked,” Galliano said.
“I know Jim a long time. I know his family. I know his mom. I’m surprised, I’m shocked. I grew up in this town. I live here all my life. I’m totally shocked. I can’t believe that. I hope it’s not true. Jimmy is just a great guy,” another parishioner said.
Parishioners told Young the church recently changed pastors and the Newark Archdiocese said it is cooperating with the investigation.
Loobey resigned about a year ago and moved to a suburb of Austin, Texas. He was arrested there and released without bail. He has agreed to return voluntarily to return to Bergen County to face the charges in court next Tuesday after the Columbus Day holiday.
The investigation began with an archdiocese internal audit. Church officials then contacted the Bergen County prosecutor.
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