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Pennsylvania Priest Arrested For Allegedly Spending $40k Of Church Funds On 'Candy Crush'

Cleric using a smartphone; Candy Crush logo on smartphone screen
Eddie Gerald/GettyImages, Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Reverend Lawrence Kozak, a Catholic priest in Pennsylvania, was arrested after using a church credit card to fund his mobile gaming addiction.

A Pennsylvania Catholic priest was arrested on April 25, 2024, and officially charged with theft after spending more than $40,000 of church funds on mobile games.

The Philadelphia Enquirer reported that Reverend Lawrence Kozak of St. Thomas More church in Pottstown was arrested in 2022 for his alleged crimes of misappropriating funds.

For three years, he used parish credit cards to fuel his gaming addiction through in-app purchases to "power up"—or gain advantages—on mobile games like Candy Crush and Mario Kart Tour.

He was subsequently removed from his position and placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

On Thursday, the 51-year-old was officially charged with stealing from the church and other related crimes according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest..

He was released after posting $250,000 bail.

The investigation found that the church's accountant discovered "an astronomical amount of Apple transactions" on the parish's credit card statements during a review of the church's finances in 2022.

Their findings showed that the suspicious transactions began in September 2019, when Kozak had just joined the parish, and ended in July 2022, when he was caught and arrested.

Detectives found that Kozak's Apple ID was used to make the transactions.

They also discovered that Kozak's Amazon account had used the parish's credit card to make purchases including a backpack, an Amazon Fire tablet, and a children’s chemistry set.

The affidavit stated those items were sent to an address in Bensalem, where his goddaughter resides. The packages came with a note signed by “Uncle Larry.”

The jokes wrote themselves.

Users continued expressing shock.

Other financial records indicated Kozak paid $10,000 of the church's credit card balance with money from his own bank account.

He also sent an $8,000 check labeled “parish reimbursements” to his successor at St. Thomas More after he was removed from his position.

Kozak denied intentionally using the church funds to pay for all the gaming advantages. He explained that the cards were associated with his cellphone so he could use them to pay for church-authorized streaming services and Microsoft Office software.

However, he claimed he may have accidentally used the cards, chalking it up to him not being a "details guy."

Kozak admitted to detectives that he was “disappointed that he had let it get to this point,” adding there was “no excuse, except that he wasn’t paying attention and should have been.”

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