BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) – A former church official accused of lining his pockets with church money appeared in a Beaver County courtroom Tuesday.
He's accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years. Tuesday, he reached a deal with the District Attorney's office.
Sixty-two-year-old Thomas Ross, once known as Brother Ambrose, appeared in court Tuesday. He was a longtime official at Good Samaritan Parish in Ambridge. He's accused of stealing nearly a quarter of a million dollars from the church, where he served as music and liturgy director and fundraising coordinator for more than 20 years.
At Tuesday's preliminary hearing, his attorney worked out a plea deal with the District Attorney's office in Beaver County.
"Mr. Ross will be on house arrest for a period of time," defense attorney Chad Bowers said, "and he will have to make a serious amount of restitution in this case."
"He's been very remorseful for it, and he has tried everything up until this point in his power to make amends," Bowers added.
Secret surveillance cameras installed in the church caught Ross taking the money. At least $220,000 was reported missing over a 9-year period.
His player card account at the Rivers Casino revealed he had nearly $3 million in transactions over 5 years. At the time, his annual salary was $28,000.
"The charges in this case… obviously, there's a gambling addiction that we're dealing with," Bowers said.
"It's been a tough time," Rev. Joe Carr of the Good Samaritan Parish in Ambridge said, "but God has been good to us, and our parishioners are just wonderful."
Father Carr says they have put changes in place to ensure something like this never happens again.
"As soon as we realized there was some sort of an issue, we started doing all kinds of things to make sure the money was secure," he said, "but that's been an ongoing process for well over a year."
A judge still needs to approve the plea deal.
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