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Former Summit Hill pastor charged with embezzling $400,000 from Reading church

Published February 10. 2011 05:00PM

Police in Berks County on Wednesday arrested the former pastor of St. Joseph and St. Stanislaus Catholic churches, Summit Hill, with embezzling more than $400,000 from a church in Reading.

Richard Nachajski, 64, who pastored the Carbon County churches in the mid-1980s and who has since left the priesthood, was arraigned before District Judge Stuart D. Kennedy on the theft charges and released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

He is charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, receiving stolen property, forgery and securing execution of documents by deception.

The charges relate to his misuse of funds he received for St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Reading.

Officials said the Diocese of Allentown contacted the Berks County District Attorney's Office after an audit completed at the church in November 2009 showed lost funds amounting to $476,093. Police said the audit review showed Nachajski was involved in suspicious purchases, transactions and transfers and that funds were unaccounted for. An unknown bank account was also revealed.

Police said their investigation included receipt of subpoenas from two investigative grand juries, and was followed by seven search warrants being issued to review credit cards, bank and other financial records dating back to 2002.

It was determined Nachajski, utilizing money left to the church by two deceased parishioners, transferred the funds between accounts that only he knew about and had access to. Police said the ex-priest wrote more than $325,000 in checks to himself and financial institutions for credit card payments on purchases he made during that time. He also spent $13,000 in church funds to buy a time-share in Mexico and also used the money to purchase a vehicle that he kept after taking a leave of absence from the church in March, 2009.

Nachajski was pastor of the church from 1998 until taking the leave on March 24 two years ago.

Now a resident of York, police said he turned himself in for the arraignment this week.

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