May 25, 2022
Principal stole over $25K from Penn. Catholic school for rent, Amazon and bar tabs, officials say
A former Catholic school principal in Pennsylvania was charged Tuesday with multiple felonies for allegedly stealing more than $25,000 from the school for personal expenses — including rent, bar tabs and Amazon purchases, authorities said.John C. McGrath, 56, of East Norriton, was the principal of Our Lady of Mercy Regional Catholic School in Maple Glen,…

A former Catholic school principal in Pennsylvania was charged Tuesday with multiple felonies for allegedly stealing more than $25,000 from the school for personal expenses — including rent, bar tabs and Amazon purchases, authorities said.

John C. McGrath, 56, of East Norriton, was the principal of Our Lady of Mercy Regional Catholic School in Maple Glen, about 25 miles north of Philadelphia. McGrath allegedly used a school credit card, a personal Venmo account and an Amazon account to conduct the fraudulent expenses, according to a statement from Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.

The unauthorized spending totaled $25,436.54, according to an investigation by the Upper Dublin Township Police, prosecutors said.

McGrath could not be reached by NBC News for comment Wednesday. It was unclear if he had retained an attorney.

A probe into McGrath’s spending was launched in November when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia alerted police to McGrath’s suspected theft, according to a probable cause affidavit.

McGrath’s expenses included “five rent payments for the defendant’s personal residence,” prosecutors said.

“The school credit card was used for 76 additional transactions … which were also found to be personal. Those charges were for restaurants, bars, Door Dash, Uber, hotel stays and purchases on Amazon for clothing and housewares, some of which were gifted to a teacher at the school,” prosecutors said.

McGrath took a trip in July that cost the school $3,554.10, the affidavit said.

McGrath’s brother and a teacher at the school also joined him, the affidavit said. The teacher who went on the trip told police McGrath said the trip was for a STEM conference. But McGrath later told the teacher there was no conference, the trip was a “vacation,” the affidavit said.

The teacher, according to the affidavit, told police the group went “sightseeing, ate at restaurants, and went to a museum while in Washington D.C.”

The affidavit also said McGrath used a personal Venmo account to collect $1,200 from 63 families as a charge for “OLM Strong” T-shirts.

The money collected for the T-shirts was never paid back to the school, officials said.

McGrath faces a litany of charges, including dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and access device fraud.

McGrath surrendered to police Tuesday, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was released on $50,000 bail, prosecutors said.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in a statement the charges against McGrath are “disturbing.”

McGrath was placed on leave in the fall of 2021, and leaders who have oversight of the school decided he would not return as principal, the archdiocese said.

“The governing pastors and the school’s board take their obligation as stewards of school and parish resources seriously and have controls in place to safeguard financial integrity. This matter was discovered because those controls functioned as designed. With the assistance of the Archdiocese, a report regarding this matter was made to local law enforcement.”

Antonio Planas

Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

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