Priest accused of stealing nearly $100K from Downingtown parish

A priest is accused of stealing nearly $100,000 from a Chester County church, authorities announced Wednesday.

Father Joseph McLoone, 56, is a priest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Downingtown.

Prosecutors said McLoone stole $98,405.50 by diverting parish funds into a secret account, misappropriating fees charged to parishioners and other fraudulent activity.

Father Joseph McLoone

Father Joseph McLoone, 56, was charged with felony theft and related offenses.

In 2011, McLoone took over as pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish following the removal of Msgr. William Lynn due to Lynn’s indictment and incarceration. During his tenure, McLoone used his position to circumvent financial controls and illegally change practices that benefitted him financially, prosecutors said.

On Nov. 2, 2011, McLoone allegedly opened a TD Bank account under the name “St. Joseph Activity.” Over the next six years, McLoone allegedly diverted approximately $125,000 in donation checks written to the parish. Prosecutors said McLoone also used the bank account to divert nearly $40,000 from the parish’s All Souls’ holiday collection to his personal account.

According to the district attorney’s office, McLoone used the money to fund his “personal lifestyle,” including a beach house, travel, dining and spending on partners with whom he maintained sexual relationships.

Officials said McLoone also supplemented his income by doubling the stipend he collected for saying each mass and performing weddings and funerals.

In all, McLoone is accused of stealing $98,405 from the parish.

“Father McLoone held a position of leadership and his parishioners trusted him to properly handle their generous donations to the church,” said District Attorney Chief of Staff Charles Gaza. “Father McLoone violated the trust of the members of St. Joseph’s for his own personal gain.”

McLoone was charged with felony theft and related offenses. He has since posted bail, which was set at $50,000 unsecured. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18. 

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says in a statement:

“These charges are serious and disturbing. 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.”

Anybody with information on this case should contact Det. Bernard Martin at 610-344-6866.