An Anglican priest and his wife have pleaded guilty to swindling money from their parish.
John and Catherine Dinn are in provincial court in St. John’s this morning.
Catherine Dinn, who covered her face to avoid reporters' cameras, and Rev. John Dinn were in provincial court today to plead guilty to fraud charges.— Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram
John Dinn, 55, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud under $5,000 and one count of theft under $5,000, while Catherine Dinn, 52, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud under $5,000.
The incidents happened between May 2012 and November 2012.
According to the facts of the case, read out by Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves, the couple took cheques at St. Evangelist Church in Conception Bay South meant for various charities, forged John Dinn's name on them and deposited them into the couple's joint bank account.
In total, they swindled more than $9,000.
The irregularities in the parish finances were discovered in December 2012 by the parish treasurer, who contacted police. Dinn was suspended as rector.
Once they obtained legal counsel, the couple paid back $8,017.
John Dinn was responsible for forging two cheques — including one as an early paycheque for himself, while his wife forged three.
As well, once John Dinn was suspended, his replacement discovered empty envelopes that were supposed to have contained $1,625, most of which was intended for the parish for five weddings, with $75 for the caretaker. John Dinn had taken the money for himself.
Three victim impact statements from parish employees, including the treasurer and secretary — read in court by the judge — described the heartbreak and disappointment the people of the parish felt about being betrayed by their priest. Many questioned their faith and many did not return to worship, they said. The employees said they suffered stress and anxiety as a result of the incident.
The case continues this morning, but is expected to be set over for another date for sentencing.
Medical reports are expected to be entered into evidence for the Dinns.
Their lawyer, Jeremy De Jong, had attempted to have the case heard in Mental Health Court, but withdrew that request at the last minute.