A Catholic priest in Greensburg today pleaded guilty to five counts of stealing nearly $100,000 in parish funds.
Judge Debra A. Pezze sentenced Emil S. Payer to 10 years of probation.
She also ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and to pay restitution of $98,033.65.
In 2011, The Westmoreland County district attorney's office launched an investigation of the finances of Seven Dolors Parish in Yukon.
That year, Rev. Payer, 69, was put on administrative leave. He has been living at a Diocese of Greensburg facility and barred from functioning publicly as a priest.
The diocese said in a statement that it will now review Rev. Payer's status.
"I think this is a fair settlement which allows the parish to recover its funds," Greensburg Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt said. "This is still a difficult day for the parish, the diocese and the priests of the diocese."'
Parishioners approached the diocese in October 2010 with concerns about diocesan finances.
An independent auditing firm came in to scrutinize three parish accounts. One, the diocese said, was an unauthorized account.
Questions arose about all the accounts, and the district attorney's office was notified.
First Published July 3, 2014 12:00 AM