Ottawa Catholic Archdiocese seeks $736,000 in damages after allegations of fraud
There are more allegations of fraud within Ottawa’s Catholic Church.
CTV News has learned the allegations target three men-- including an Ottawa lawyer-- who sat on the St. Patrick's Fallowfield Cemetery Committee.
The Ottawa Archdiocese is suing the men for 736-thousand dollars in damages.
St. Patrick's Fallowfield Catholic Church is one the most popular parish's in west-Ottawa.
The troubling allegations date back more than a decade, reported for the first time now only after a CTV investigaton.
According to court documents, The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the City of Ottawa has launched a lawsuit seeking damages of 736-thousand dollars. The civil lawsuit names three men, Ottawa lawyer Ronald Houlahan, Michael Rooney and Glenn Clarke, all former members of the church’s cemetery committee.
It's alleged they used "deceitful transactions" to divert $413,970 from the St. Patrick's Fallowfield Cemetery. The allegations of fraudulent activity date back to 2003 and continued until 2011. A forensic investigation alleges that over those eight years money from the sale of plots had gone missing, honorariums were handed out, and unsupported payments were made through the signing of cheques by all three men. The alleged irregularities only discovered after a review of the cemetery's finances in 2010.
Fraud allegations are not new to Ottawa's Catholic Church. Well-known and well-loved Priest Father Joe Leclair admitted to stealing 130-thousand dollars over five-years from Blessed Sacrament Church. He's now in jail for the crime.
In the case involving St. Patrick’s Cemetery, the three men, through their lawyers, told CTV they had no comment while the case is in front of the courts. The archdiocese is also refusing to comment.
This is a civil lawsuit; it does not involve criminal charges. And it's not clear if Ottawa police were ever called in to investigate. The church is also facing countersuits by the three men. They are seeking damages for defamation, all claiming in their defence that the honorariums were authorized.