WINNIPEG — As a result of a routine audit by the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, it was discovered that over $400,000 of parish funds have been misappropriated since 2009. The audit results were reported to the Winnipeg Police Service. After investigating, the police have charged Leo McCaughan, 39, with fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000, and falsification of books and documents. He was remanded into custory
The Archdiocese of St. Boniface has been working closely with the Parish of St. Bernadette and the Winnipeg Police Service. Between March of 2009 and December of 2015, McCaughan was employed as the administrator at the Parish of St. Bernadette on Cottonwood Road in the City of Winnipeg. During this time frame, he was entrusted with numerous duties which included managing the finances of the church. It’s alleged that he exploited his position for his own financial gain by embezzling and withdrawing over $400,000. He then covered up his actions by entering false information into the general ledger.
Following the discovery of the missing funds, the archdiocese has issued an audit report outlining recommendations to establish internal controls. The archdiocese is working closely with the new pastor and the Parish Finance Committee to implement safeguards to ensure that parish assets are protected. In the past two years, the archdiocese has been conducting routine audits of all parishes in the archdiocese. The archdiocese had established, 10 years ago, a series of Best Practices for Parish Administration (revised in 2015) that are available upon request.
The Archdiocese of St. Boniface is deeply saddened for the parishioners of St. Bernadette. People have donated funds to the parish in good faith for the good of the parish. These funds would have been directed toward the parish’s normal operations and for its mission of helping the poor and other works of charity. Additionally, a significant portion of the funds raised for the renovation of the church building are missing. This is a major setback for the people of St. Bernadette. However, the archdiocese, the new pastor, the deacon and the staff are committed to working together to heal the parish’s wounds.