Two clergymen who served as administrators at a Catholic elementary school in El Paso, Texas, took more than $800,000 in school funds for their personal use.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso says in a news release that the misappropriation of funds from St. Joseph Catholic School by Brother Edwin Gallagher and Brother Richard Fish, who oversaw the school for about 25 years, was uncovered after the two men retired in 2015.
Gallagher was the school's principal, and Fish was assistant principal. The two religious brothers were members of the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis order that operated St. Joseph.
After the misappropriation was discovered, the men confessed to their actions, the diocese says. The Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis have agreed to reimburse the diocese.
The diocese says that the discovery of the missing funds came after the two retired. St. Joseph's new bookkeeper sought to clear up some accounting discrepancies and set up a new system with help from Greg Watters, the diocese's chief financial officer.
Watters determined that Gallagher and Fish had been paying for personal expenses out of school bank accounts. An independent accounting firm was called in to carry out a forensic investigation and identified $800,246 in personal expenses of Gallagher and Fish that were paid with school funds.
"The discovery of the misappropriated funds by trusted individuals has caused disappointment and justifiable anger," the diocese says. "We are thankful that St. Joseph School will not suffer the adverse financial consequences that accompany most cases of this nature. And we ask for prayers for Brother Edwin and Brother Richard during this Year of Mercy."