UPPER ST. CLAIR, Pa. (KDKA) – Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair is one of the largest Presbyterian churches in southwestern Pennsylvania with over 1700 members.
One of those long-time members, David Reiter, was also the church administrator for 17 years.
It turns out, police say, that he was also a big time thief, stealing more than $1.2 million from the church between 2001 and 2018.
In a lengthy complaint, the Allegheny County District Attorney's office has charged Reiter with 10 counts, including forgery, criminal conspiracy, and theft.
The complaint alleges that Reider stole over $979,000 through an electronic transfer of funds from the church's PNC Bank account to his own PNC account.
He is also accused of misusing a Bank of America credit card to the tune of $229,000.
The complaint alleges that Reider used that money for both general household expenses and a variety of family trips, including Disney World, Hershey Park, Cedar Point and Kings Island.
Late Tuesday afternoon, KDKA spoke with Dr. Jim Gilchrist, senior pastor at Westminister.
"There was a tremendous amount of forethought and deception in all of this which is all the more sad and a sense of betrayal," said Gilchrist.
"He was an active member of the church for many years, played the keyboard in the contemporary worship service, led the staff worship services at Christmas time, so everybody trusted him."
Gilchrist said the fraud was detected when he and lay officials ask to meet with the outside auditor.
Reider stalled on that request and ultimately pretended to be the auditor at the other end of a cell phone, but his voice was recognized.
When confronted by Gilchrist, he admitted the wrongdoing.
Also charged is Reider's wife Connie on conspiracy and receiving stolen property.
Gilchrist said it was unlikely that the church could recover any its lost money.
He also said that Westminster has put in place procedures to make sure this never happens again, and he advises all religious institutions to do the same.
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