Brandon priest sued for racking up $202K on church credit card
Expenses included 3 trips to Las Vegas and massages, court documents claim
Trips to Las Vegas, massages, clothing and a Netflix subscription are some of the purchases that an Anglican priest in Brandon, Man., charged to a church credit card.
Archdeacon Noah Njegovan, 32, is being sued by the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Brandon, where he has worked since 2009.
According to court documents obtained by CBC News, Njegovan racked up more than $202,286.42 in fraudulent expenses on a church Visa card between January 2010 and September 2012.
During that time, he was in charge of finances and bookkeeping for the diocese and had access to the church's credit card and online bank accounts.
Court documents claim that he would charge the credit card and then redirect funds from the church's bank account to pay for the fraudulent purchases, which included:
- Cash advances: $94,229.
- Meals/Bars: $46,660.
- Hotels: $13,277.
- Travel/Fuel: $8,107.
- Three trips to Las Vegas: $6,791.
- Other transactions that included massages, clothing and a Netflix subscription: $31,488.
The credit card had a limit of just $2,500, but court documents claim he would withdraw money from the church's deposit account and pay off the card many times during the month, so the fraud went undetected.
In 2012, according to the church's statement of claim, officials became concerned about Njegovan's bookkeeping and relieved him from the position. Another bookkeeper was brought in and discovered a large amount of money missing.
The Diocese of Brandon then hired an accounting firm to conduct an external audit, which determined the former priest had misappropriated the funds.
Njegovan is not currently facing any criminal charges. In March, fraud charges against him were withdrawn.
However, the diocese is seeking damages of $250,000 for breach of trust and fraudulent misspending, plus $100,000 in punitive damages, and it wants Njegovan to cover all court costs.
In court in Brandon on Monday, the diocese was successful in obtaining a court-ordered freeze of all of Njegovan's assets. This prevents him from liquidating anything that may have been traced to this misspending.
CBC News has contacted Njegovan, but he did not wish to comment.