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Reverend To Plead Guilty To Theft

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(Credit: CBS)

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ROSELLE, Ill. (STMW) — A man of the cloth, who stole $300,000 from the collection plates of his Roselle parish to support his gambling addiction, is expected to plead guilty Thursday to theft.

The Rev. John F. Regan, 47, the former pastor of St. Walter Parish, is expected to enter a blind plea to a single count of theft, his attorney, John Donahue, told DuPage Judge John Kinsella today.

A blind plea means no sentence has been agreed upon by the prosecutors and defense. Kinsella will sentence Regan at a future hearing. The crime of theft over $100,000 carries a 4- to 15-year prison sentence, but a defendant is also eligible for probation.

A jury trial for Regan was scheduled to begin Monday. Regan, who is out of jail on $100,000 bond, wasn’t in the Wheaton courtroom today, but he has been present at regular court calls the past two years. Court records show that he had spent 10 days in the county jail after being charged.

A priest since 1989, Regan was removed as pastor of St. Walter when officials of the Joliet Diocese became aware of the charges in 2009. At the time, a diocesan spokesman said the priest had an “apparent gambling addiction.” Regan has since received treatment for gambling addiction. He currently is living in a parish in Shorewood.

According to a February 2009 indictment, Regan took cash and personal check offerings made to the church from August 2006 through July 2008. He placed the funds into an account he opened named “Church of St. Walter Special Needs Account.” His name was the only name listed on the account. He then took funds from that account and moved them into his personal account at a different bank, the indictment charges.

Then, according to the indictment, he withdrew funds at ATM machines at riverboat casinos and also used the money to make personal purchases and credit cards payments.

He was indicted for theft over $100,000 from a place of worship, a continuing financial crimes enterprise and money laundering, which carried a potential prison sentence of up to 30 years.

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