Former Ste. Anne priest sentenced to 10 months in jail
A former Tecumseh priest was sentenced to 10 months in jail after he was found guilty of theft.
Robert Couture must pay back $75,000 for theft over $5000 he carried out while acting as parish pastor at Ste. Anne Catholic Church.
“The restitution represents a fraction of what the Diocese believes was misappropriated by Couture,” the Diocese of London responded in a statement.
“The criminal justice system has taken its course and we hope and pray that today’s sentencing may bring some closure to the parishioners of Ste. Anne’s.”
In 2011, the Diocese of London asked Essex County OPP to open an investigation into the actions of Couture after an independent forensic audit commissioned by the diocese found financial irregularities while Couture was pastor of Ste. Anne’s.
Couture left the parish in 2010 and was granted a personal leave of absence.
Keeping with Diocese of London policy, when there is a change in the pastor of a parish, an audit of the parish’s finances was completed.
Church officials say Diocese of London auditors raised a number questions, including a number of expenses charged to the parish and a previously unknown bank account In the parish’s name.
As a result, an independent forensic audit be completed by KPMG Forensics in 2011, discovering a minimum of $169,000 in missing funds,” said the Diocese of London statement. An insurance claim was filed and the parish recovered the $169,000.
“The Diocese of London believed and continues to believe that we have an obligation to report financial irregularities in our diocese to the police.”
The Diocese said a number of controls have been put in place and enhanced over the years.