Priest accused of stealing $98K from church to pay Grindr hookups
August 21, 2019 | 3:52pm | Updated
A Pennsylvania priest stole nearly $100,000 in church donations to pay men he met on Grindr for sex acts — and to pay off his personal credit cards, prosecutors said.
The Rev. Joseph McLoone, 56, was arrested on felony theft and related charges Wednesday after investigators revealed that he opened a secret checking account in 2011 to deposit donations from parishioners at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Downingtown, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced.
McLoone, of Downingtown, then funneled the donation checks into an unauthorized “St. Joseph Activity Account” at TD Bank for the next six years and stole $98,405 in all, according to Chester County district attorney chief of staff Charles Gaza.
“Father McLoone held a position of leadership and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church,” Gaza said in a statement. “Father McLoone violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph’s for his own personal gain.”
McLoone allegedly withdrew roughly $46,000 in cash from the undisclosed account in Ocean City, New Jersey, where he owns a beach house. He also admitted to using some of the funds to pay for his “personal relationships” with other men, including $1,200 McLoone deposited into the commissary account of an inmate in a New York correctional facility, according to a criminal complaint.
The inmate, identified in court documents as Brian Miller, was never a Pennsylvania resident and had no previous connection to McLoone’s church. McLoone told investigators that Miller lived in New York City and that he met the inmate via Grindr for a sexual relationship, the complaint shows
McLoone separately made 17 payments totaling $1,720 to men he met on Grindr via the Square online payment app and doubled the fee he collected as a stipend for each Mass, wedding and funeral held at St. Joseph’s Parish, prosecutors claim. He’s also accused of using $3,000 of the stolen funds to pay off personal credit cards.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia launched an investigation of McLoone in early 2018. He was later put on administrative leave before resigning as pastor of the parish, according to a statement released Wednesday by diocese officials.
“These charges are serious and disturbing,” the statement read. “The Archdiocese and the parish will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as the criminal matter enters its next phase. Pending the outcome, Monsignor McLoone remains on administrative leave. Information regarding his arrest will be shared with the Saint Joseph Parish community.”
McLoone could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday, but his attorney denied the allegations when reached by The Post.
“What he did with his own personal money is his business,” attorney Melissa McCafferty said. “It may be between him and the archdiocese, but it’s not between him and law enforcement.”
Citing McLoone’s “private life,” McCafferty declined to discuss details of the allegations but said he had provided authorities with detailed financial records.