Priest Who Gambled Away Nearly $1,000,000 Meant For Refugees Given Jail Sentence

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Back in 2016, we learned about a Catholic priest from Ontario who stole half a million Canadian dollars from a church fund ostensibly set up to help Iraqi refugees resettling in Canada… and then gambled everything away.

Father Amer Saka of St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church was eventually charged with fraud. This week, he finally received his punishment. Forget the Hail Marys. He’ll be spending the next two years behind bars. The sentence may have been mitigated after Saka explained that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder; his brother was murdered in Baghdad and his mother died in his arms. Saka told the court that gambling helped him cope with the tragedy because it took his mind off those memories. The judge apparently also thought Saka’s irresponsible gambling was not “consistent” with his way of life, which suggests his role in the Church gave him a special benefit. Given how many people he hurt, it’s easy to think his sentence was far too low: The fraud was committed between 2013 and 2016. During that time, the sponsorship applications — for which funds had been given in trust — were lost or not completed. Thirty-three families, comprised of 105 family members, were victims of Saka’s actions. In addition to the jail time, Saka will have 15 years to repay the money he lost through gambling. If he doesn’t cough up the cash by then, he could go back to ail for another five years. It’s nothing new for a Church leader to lie to the congregation — that’s a weekly requirement — but to take advantage of their generosity and withhold help from refugees is truly despicable. (Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Mark for the link)