Ex-treasurer convicted of stealing money from church

WILKES-BARRE — A former assistant treasurer at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church has apologized for stealing a large sum of money from the congregation.

David Williams, 64, of Park Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, was charged by Wilkes-Barre police with stealing $20,000 from the church, court records show.

Williams has helped with the finances of the church since 2005 who was solely responsible for counting and depositing weekly donations.

“I acted alone and I did so knowingly,” Williams said during his sentencing hearing Friday before Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. no apologies. I will most likely lose my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license. I have embarrassed myself, my wife, my children and my friends.

Sklarosky sentenced Williams, who pleaded guilty to theft by deception, to serve five years in the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program, a special probation program, and ordered him to pay $20,000 in restitution to the insurance company of the church, York Risk Management Company.

Williams’ attorney Al Flora said the money was not used for any gambling debts.

“It was just an unfortunate situation,” Flora said.

Williams’ wife Donna said in court that they could not cope with escalating medical bills despite having health insurance.

Court records indicate that South Franklin Street church officials reported the theft of funds to police in March 2018. Several parishioners discovered discrepancies in donation amounts when receiving their annual tax returns.

When the Reverend Brian Pavlac and other church officials confronted Williams, he admitted to the theft and asked the church not to contact authorities, court records show.

York Risk Management Company issued a payment to the church to cover the losses. Part of the settlement was used to conduct a forensic audit that revealed a total theft loss of $76,659.11 from 2011 to 2018, according to court records.

Due to the statute of limitations, Williams was only charged with stealing $20,000.

Jerry B. Hatch