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Retired pastor accused of stealing more than $350K from North Side church

Retired pastor accused of stealing more than $350K from North Side church 02:07

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A former Pittsburgh pastor is facing charges for allegedly stealing more than $350,000 from his church. 

Wayne Peck surrendered to authorities early Tuesday morning, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office said. 

According to court documents, Peck was a pastor at the Community House Presbyterian Church on the North Side for more than 40 years before he retired in 2017.

The case's investigator said after Peck retired, he continued to cause checks payable to him to be issued without anyone's knowledge, taking more than $357,000 from the church's funds. 

Investigators said the day before he retired, the reverend changed authorized signers on the church's bank account to himself, his wife and a board member, preventing other members of the church from accessing the account.  

According to the criminal complaint, in the fall of 2019, the Pittsburgh Presbytery found "irregularities and delinquencies" with the church, its financial management and its former pastor. The Presbytery has oversight on financial matters for Presbyterian congregations. It was working to put the church on solid footing for the future. As it investigated, red flags started popping up.            According to the Presbytery, "substantial funds designated for the church in recent years were not actually received by the church." Then they called police.  

Detectives with the district attorney's office discovered Peck received checks for large sums of money after his retirement. In all, it added up to $357,000. The money was deposited into accounts owned by the reverend and his wife. They allegedly used the money on utilities, their mortgage, shopping, gas, dining and travel expenses.  

Rev. Peck turned himself into the district attorney's office Tuesday morning.  

In a statement, the Presbytery said: "The members of the Commission are deeply saddened by this situation and pray for God's justice and healing for all who are involved. There are no allegations of wrongdoing against the current pastor or leadership of the church. The Commission will continue to work alongside the church's leaders and is cooperating fully with the Allegheny County District Attorney's office in its investigation." 

Peck's attorney said they are reviewing the charges against him. They said, "It is shocking that the Pittsburgh Presbytery has chosen to resolve an honest dispute in this manner." 

Peck bonded out of jail and has a preliminary hearing set for May 13. He's facing charges of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.

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