Pastor allegedly used church funds to spend $40,000 on Candy Crush


A Pottstown, Pa., Catholic priest allegedly used church credit cards to spend more than $40,000 on “items” in mobile games Mario Kart Tour and candy Crush Saga over three years.

It is reported Philadelphia InquirerrOn April 25, the Rev. Lawrence Kozak, 51, was charged with theft and other related crimes, according to an arrest probable cause affidavit. He was released on $250,000 bail. His lawyers are reviewing the charges.

According to investigators, an accountant at Kozak's church discovered “astronomical Apple transactions” on the church's credit card statements while reviewing its 2022 finances. Beginning in March, shortly after Pastor Kozak joined the diocese, it will end in July 2022. candy Crush Saga and Mario Kart Tour Registered to Kozak. Detectives also discovered that an Amazon account associated with the priest had used church funds to purchase items such as Flame tablets for Kozak's goddaughter. The gifts included a note signed by “Uncle Larry.”

Other records show that at one point Kozak used his personal bank account to pay a $10,000 church credit card bill.

Kozak was interviewed by police in 2022

Detectives reportedly interviewed Kozak in 2022, and the priest told them he was seeking counseling for a mobile gaming addiction. He clarified to investigators that he did not spend the money gambling, but instead spent thousands of dollars purchasing items to “enhance” and gain an advantage in various games.

Kozak allegedly denied knowingly using the church's credit cards to make in-app purchases, claiming the cards had been linked to his account and phone to pay bills authorized by the church. But he did tell detectives that he may have accidentally used church funds to purchase items in the game, saying he was not a “detail-oriented person” and that he was sorry he “let things get to this point.”

The pastor was removed from his duties at the church in November 2022 after an internal investigation into Kozak's spending revealed he was addicted to gaming and used church funds.

After being fired, he sent an $8,000 check marked “diocesan reimbursement” to the church's new leader. In a note accompanying the payment, Kozak reportedly apologized to the new pastor for his “mistake” and planned to pay back all the money the church was owed.

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