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Church employee steals tithes, then lives the high life

A Pennsylvania church employee and his wife were charged with stealing $1.2 million from the congregation and using the money for sports events, vacations, and other expenses.

The money went for lavish vacations, fancy restaurants, scrapbooking supplies, Pittsburgh Pirates tickets, groceries, electronics, clothing, tech gadgets and more, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said 50-year-old David Reiter of South Park was being charged with forgery, receiving stolen property, and theft.

David’s wife, 44-year-old Connie Reiter, is being charged with two counts of receiving stolen property, according to The Associated Press.

Reiter allegedly stole the money from Westminster Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh over the 17-year period that he worked at the church as a business administrator.

The Reiters appeared before District Judge Ronald Arnoni on Tuesday. Mr. Reiter’s bail was set at $50,000 while Mrs. Reiter’s was set at $5,000. The couple will have a preliminary hearing on Feb. 28.

Westminster Presbyterian released a statement in which they explained that Reiter had been “a widely trusted, active member of the church” who “engaged in sophisticated forms of deception to hide his theft.”

“While the church always had reasonable levels of controls for receiving and counting money and making disbursements by check, the theft was accomplished largely through electronic fund transfers,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“New procedures and controls have been implemented to prevent such activity in the future, and a full outside audit will be completed this spring.”

During his time as an administrator at the church, Reiter allegedly hid the criminal activities by impersonating audit firm employees and falsifying accounting data, according to a police detective cited by Triblive.com.  

According to Westminster Presbyterian’s lead Pastor, Jim Gilchrist, Reiter approached him last November confessing to the thefts and expressing remorse for his actions.

This reportedly included telling Gilchrist that he had done “bad things” while serving as an administrator, because he wanted “to make things better at home.”

Following his conversation with Gilchrist, Reiter then went to the Upper St. Clair Police Department to inform them of his actions.

Westminster Presbyterian Church said they are pursuing insurance claims to recover the losses and expect to reach a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service eventually.