Southeastern PA

Chester County priest charged for allegedly stealing $98K from church

Money spent on beach house, credit cards, travel

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. - Investigators allege that a former priest at a Chester County Catholic church gave himself unauthorized pay raises and stole an annual collection to pay credit card bills, maintain a Jersey Shore beach house and spend on men with whom he had sexual relationships.

Joseph McLoone, of Downington, faces more than a dozen charges, including theft and receiving stolen property, for allegedly embezzling about $125,000 from St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Downington into a secret account for about six years. The Chester County District Attorney's Office announced the 56-year-old was arrested on Wednesday and released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

"Father McLoone held a position of leadership and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church," district attorney Chief of Staff Charles Gaza said in a prepared statement. "Father McClone violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph's for his own personal gain."

McLoone took over as pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in 2011. Investigators allege that he opened a bank account deemed "St. Joseph Activity Account" on Nov. 2, 2011, which coincided with the first All Souls holiday that took place during his tenure at the church.

The district attorney's office said McLoore took over as pastor from Monsignor William Lynn, who was indicted and convicted for covering up sex-abuse claims against Catholic priests.

Over six years, investigators allege that McLoone diverted $125,000 into the account. The money included donations from congregants for the church and school and fees paid for weddings and funerals. Authorities said they recovered some of the money, and McLoore is accused of stealing $98,405.

McLoore stands accused of diverting the All Souls collection each year into his secret account before it was discovered by the Philadelphia Archdiocese shortly before his ouster in 2018. He's accused of stealing $39,543 from the annual collection.

With no oversight over the account, McLoore funded his personal lifestyle, including dining, travel and his beach house in Ocean City, N.J. Authorities said he regularly made thousands of dollars in cash withdrawals in Ocean City and made payments from the account directly to his personal credit cards.

Court records indicate McLoore paid $1,202 into a commissary account for an inmate in New York state prison. When questioned about the transactions, McLoore told investigators that the inmate was a one-time parishioner of a church in Chester.

Authorities said they determined the inmate never lived in Pennsylvania and was not associated with the church or parish. McLoore allegedly admitted that he met the man on Grinder, had a sexual relationship with him and used church money to pay his personal expenses, according to court records.

McLoore also stands accused of stealing $5,660 by doubling stipend priests recieve for mass, weddings and funerals.

McLoore's next court date is a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for Sept. 18. Chester County detectives continue to investigate the case, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact Det. Bernard Martin at 610-344-6866.

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