Police Say Pennsylvania Priest Blew $40K of Church Money on Phone Apps

A Pennsylvania priest is facing criminal charges after police said he stole thousands of dollars of church funds and used them for App Store transactions – like virtual slot machines, Mario Kart, Candy Crush and Pokémon Go.

A criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause allege Lawrence Kozak, a former pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in Pottstown, spent over $214,000 on his Apple ID and that just under $44,000 of that was charged to a credit card associated with the parish.

The affidavit written by a Pennsylvania State Police detective alleges there were over 2,000 transactions marked as “gaming” in a document running from September 2019 to June 2022.

The slot machine apps named in the complaint, like Cash Frenzy, Willy Wonka Vegas Casino Slots and Wizard of Oz Slot Machine Game, do not award real-world money for wins in the game. But they do allow you to spend real-world money to play.

In an interview with the investigating detective Kozak reportedly described spending money on his slot apps not as gambling, but rather as “powering up.”

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