WILKES-BARRE — A former assistant treasurer at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church apologized for stealing a large amount of money from the congregation.
David Williams, 64, of Park Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, was accused by Wilkes-Barre police of stealing $20,000 from the church, according to court records.
Williams assisted with the church’s finances since 2005 who was solely responsible for counting and depositing weekly donations.
“I acted alone and I did it knowingly,” Williams said at his sentencing hearing Friday before Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. “I make no excuses. I will most likely lose my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) license. I embarrassed myself, my wife, my children and my friends.”
Sklarosky sentenced Williams, who pled guilty to theft by deception, to serve five years in the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program, a special probationary program, and ordered him to pay $20,000 in restitution to the church’s insurance carrier, York Risk Management Company.
Williams’ attorney, Al Flora, said the money was not used for any gambling debt.
“It was just an unfortunate situation,” Flora said.
Williams’ wife, Donna, said in court they could not keep up with escalating medical bills despite having health insurance.
Court records say officials at the South Franklin Street church reported the theft of funds to police in March 2018. Several parishioners discovered discrepancies in donation amounts upon receiving their annual tax statements.
When Rev. Brian Pavlac and other church officials confronted Williams, he admitted to the theft and asked the church not to contact authorities, court records say.
York Risk Management Company issued payment to the church to cover losses. A portion of the settlement was used to conduct a forensic audit that revealed a total theft loss of $76,659.11 from 2011 to 2018, court records say.
Due to the statute of limitations, Williams was only accused of stealing $20,000.