An American pastor, Gregory Neal, has admitted in court that he stole $130,000 from his church to pay debts emanating from gambling, The Christian Post has reported.
Neal, an executive pastor with Journey Baptist Church in Barrington, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty to the crime, saying he made unauthorised withdrawals of the money using debit and credit cards between January 2017 and March 2020.
Neal’s responsibility in the church is to oversee the daily operations of the church, which included control over its finances.
The clergyman “pleaded guilty to a one-count information alleging wire fraud” during his appearance in court, a press statement by Jane Young, a U.S. attorney, said.
He risks a jail term not exceeding 20 years, three years of supervised release, a maximum fine not surpassing $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, and restitution.
Young stated further, “Sentence are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.”
While the case against Neal, 45, is being investigated by the U.S Secret Service, he is being prosecuted by Aaron Gingrande, an attorney.
The District Court judge, Samantha Elliot, has scheduled sentencing for July 19.