June 15, 2024

A Catholic priest in Pottstown, Pennsylvania allegedly used a church bank card to spend over $40,000 on “power-ups” in cell video games Mario Kart Tour and Sweet Crush over a three-year span.

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, on April 25, Reverend Lawrence Kozak, 51, was charged with theft and different associated crimes in response to an affidavit of possible trigger for his arrest. He has since been launched after posting the $250,000 bail. His legal professional is reviewing the fees.

In keeping with investigators, an accountant working at Kozak’s church found “an astronomical quantity of Apple transactions” on the church’s bank card statements whereas reviewing its funds in 2022. The purchases reportedly started in September 2019, shortly after Rev. Kozak joined the parish, and led to July 2022. Allegedly, the Apple ID that bought content material in cell video games like Sweet Crush and Mario Kart Tour was registered to Kozak. Detectives additionally found that an Amazon account related to the priest had used church funds to buy gadgets like a Hearth Pill for Kozak’s goddaughter. The items included a word that was signed by “Uncle Larry.”

Different information confirmed that Kozak had, at one level, used his private checking account to pay $10,000 off the church’s bank card invoice.

Kozak was interviewed by police in 2022

Detectives reportedly interviewed Kozak in 2022 and the priest advised them that he was in search of out counseling for his cell sport dependancy. He clarified with investigators that he had not spent the cash on playing, however as an alternative spent 1000’s of {dollars} on gadgets to “power-up” and achieve a bonus in varied video games.

Kozak allegedly denied deliberately utilizing the church’s bank card for in-app purchases, claiming that the playing cards have been already related to his accounts and telephone to pay church-authorized payments. However he did inform detectives that it was potential he had by chance used church funds to purchase in-game power-ups, saying he wasn’t a “particulars man” and that he was sorry he had “let it get thus far.”

The priest was faraway from his place on the church in November 2022 after an inner investigation into Kozak’s spending revealed his gaming dependancy and use of church funds.

After he was eliminated, he despatched an $8,000 examine labeled “parish reimbursements” to the brand new chief of the church. In a word included with the fee, Kozak reportedly apologized to the brand new priest for his “mistake” and deliberate to pay again the church all the cash he owed.