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Kansas Priest Steals $42,000 from Church to Cover Gambling Losses

A priest in Johnson County in Kansas has stolen money from the church he was a pastor at in order to cover his gambling losses totalling more than $67,000, according to recently revealed court documents. Last month, Rev. Joseph Cramer was charged with embezzling around $42,000 from his parish and when the first allegations came to light, he resigned as pastor.

The 68-year-old man was pastor of Divine Mercy Parish in Gardner, Kansas. In a shocking investigation, authorities last year revealed that he has stolen a large amount of money from the parish in 2015 and 2016. After investigators found a connection between Cramer and the thefts, he was placed on administrative leave and later, he resigned from his position as a pastor, according to the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

Last month, the Johnson County District Court charged the Catholic priest with felony theft. In fact, he was charged with three counts – theft of property greater than $25,000, and two counts of unlawful use of a computer to falsely obtain money, property and services. Cramer was booked into the Johnson County Jail on May 8 but after paying a $5,000 bond, he was released. The former pastor has not commented the case, but court documents revealed on June 1 show that he had lost more than $67,000 in three different casinos.

Back in September, the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, was informed of alleged financial irregularities at the Divine Mercy Parish in Gardner. These irregularities have taken place during the time when Rev. Joseph Cramer was serving as pastor there.

Gambling Losses of over $67,000

According to investigators, the former pastor has been secretly taken money from his parish for around a year. They have found evidence to charge him with three counts of theft, but he may have committed the crime even more times. The first suspicions emerged when the church’s business manager noticed that no bank reconciliations had been made for more than a year. She then decided to compare the present church records against the bank records and found that there were multiple cancelled cheques signed by Cramer.

Even more interestingly, the cheques were made payable to the priest himself. This illegal practice continued from May 2015 to May 2016, official court documents reveal. In other words, the former pastor wrote cheques to himself, took the money, and then, they cancelled them in a strange, yet easy to spot scheme. But why did he steal money from his own parish? To the surprise of all the faithful in his parish and the investigators in the case, he needed the money to gamble.

According to the official court documentation, Rev. Joseph Cramer had gambling losses totalling $67,064.66. Apparently, he played and lost at three different casinos, namely Argosy, Ameristar and Harrah’s.