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'Bitter' priest blows $1.3m of church funds

'Swanky hotels and male escorts'

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A "bitter" Connecticut priest blew $1.3m of his church's funds on "swanky hotels and male escorts", CNN reports.

Father Kevin Gray, 64, is no longer a pastor at the Sacred Heart Church in Waterbury, having allegedly indulged in a spectacular, seven-year spending spree during which he splashed out on "fancy restaurants, clothing, vacations, hotels, a New York City apartment and a male companion's tuition at Harvard University".

According to an affidavit obtained by CNN, "between June 2003 and March 2010, Gray spent about $205,000 at high-end restaurants, $132,000 in hotel stays and $85,000 at clothing stores".

Gray "allegedly kept company with a number of male escorts", and was kind enough to provide some with credit cards on his account. One, Islagar Labrada, allegedly racked up $49,000, including "a stay at the Sheraton in Buena Vista, Florida, storage facilities, computers, computer software, cell phones, anti-aging creams, artwork, Louis Vuitton stores, a home alarm system and bicycles".

Another escort, Weirui Zhong, told cops "he met Gray in Central Park in 2005", and his benefactor "paid for his rented apartment in New York, a piano, dogs and Harvard University tuition since 2008".

Gray also allegedly augmented his annual salary of $27,000 "by signing an agreement with Wireless Capital Partners, a communications company based in Los Angeles, California, to allow a wireless antenna to be placed in the church, though doing so was strictly prohibited".*

A "routine audit" finally put an end to Gray's lavish lifestyle, when it exposed "numerous accounting discrepancies". He was charged this week with first-degree larceny.

The affadavit explains: "Gray became very bitter with the church starting in 2001 when he was transferred to a parish in New Hartford while his mother was dying in New Haven. Mr. Gray stated that when he started in 2003, he began taking the money because he felt the Church owed it to him." ®

Bootnote

* Yes indeed - the obligatory tenuous IT angle. Beers all round, I reckon...

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