• Former pastor charged with stealing from church claims he already paid back money


    CHIPPEWA, Pa. - A former Chippewa pastor was in court on Thursday, accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars from parishioners.

    Police say Rodney Smith kept for himself more than $30,000 that was meant for Chippewa United Methodist Church.

    His attorney says Smith already paid back all the missing money within one week of police filing charges.

    Pennsylvania State Police say after they conducted a yearlong investigation into the disappearance of tens of thousands of dollars in funds, they charged Smith.


    With his attorney, his wife and a few parishioners by his side, Smith came to court Thursday to face a theft charge.

    He did not have anything to say, but his attorney revealed some interesting information. 

    "It was a big mistake. He never did take anything from his congregation," attorney Casey White said. "This was money used for people in need and he did not take it from them."
    His attorney is hoping for a rehabilitation program in which Smith's record will be wiped clean.

    According to the criminal complaint, the alleged theft of the money happened over a three-year period and involved more than $30,000.

    In August 2016, an associate pastor and a treasurer were planning an upcoming mission trip and noticed some discrepancies in the budget, according to police paperwork.

    Police said the pastor found out and immediately changed the church policy on funding.
    Troopers said he removed boxes from the church office that detectives said contained receipts pertaining to church finances and funds. 
    On the sign in the front of the church, the pastor's name is now covered up.
    Channel 11 has learned he is no longer working there. The current pastor told Channel 11 he will let the criminal investigation play out, but hopes to get the money back for the church.



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