A North Side Presbyterian church charged a retired pastor with theft after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds and property.

A 70 year old retired pastor from a North Side Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania has been charged with theft and receiving stolen property. Rev. Wayne Peck, who served at Community House Presbyterian Church for 40 years until his retirement in March 2017, turned himself in to the Allegheny County District Attorney's office detectives on Tuesday.

The criminal complaint said that Peck was hired by Community House Presbyterian Church back in 1977 and had served for four decades. Representatives of the Pittsburgh Presbytery and Community House Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania contacted investigators with the district attorney's office in 2019 after they discovered financial irregularities, TribLive reported.

Criminal Complaint Against Retired Pastor Reveals Calculated Theft

The criminal complaint alleged that on the day before Peck's retirement, the Pennsylvania pastor changed the authorized signatories on the bank signature card for the church and its Community House organization to include just himself, his wife, and one more member of the board, thereby preventing access by anyone else.

Bank records were analyzed to reveal that even after Peck's retirement, the Community House bank account continued to issue checks with large sums payable to the pastor. It reached a sum of $357,000, with many of the memo lines saying that these funds were reimbursement for expenses. The checks were found to have been deposited into accounts owned by Peck and his wife, Molly. The funds were then used for their day to day living expenses such as their mortgage, utilities, shopping, vehicles, and travels, officials reported.

Also Read: Churches Need To Protect Themselves From Embezzlement, Expert Says

Church Embezzlement Cases Continue Across America

In Florida, a former federal prosecutor who examined the internal investigation into Stovall Weems, the founding pastor of Celebration Church, is commenting on the case. Weems and Celebration church are in the midst of a civil battle involving allegations of financial misconduct and fraud. Many witnesses in the case described "intense personal anguish and pain caused by working for the Weemses," News 4 Jax reported.

When allegations of financial and other impropriety came to light, the board of Celebration Church enlisted a law firm to investigate. It then decided to forward the results of the investigation to authorities to determine if they should press charges against Weems.

"Given what we read here, assuming it's accurate, it would seem to be a foregone conclusion that the pastor is going to face criminal charges," former federal prosecutor of 17 years Curtis Fallgatter commented. "This looks like a classic fraud."

Weems was found to have enriched himself and violated church bylaws to make major financial decisions without the approval of the church's board. The report revealed that Weems purchased a home on the Nassau River and sold it four months later to the church for a $430,000 profit without board approval.

In April, Weems took to his Instagram account to announce that he was resigning from his roles as CEO, president, chair and member of the board of trustees, senior pastor, and registered agent of Celebration Church Jacksonville.

Related Article: Celebration Church Founder Pastor Stovall Weems Resigns Amid Legal Battle With Trustees