A Pennsylvania church administrator stole $1.2 million from his religious community and used the money for family theme park vacations and other personal expenses, authorities say.
David Reiter, a 50-year-old business manager and occasional keyboardist for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, faces felony charges including theft, forgery, conspiracy and receiving stolen property, according to a criminal complaint obtained by HuffPost.
His wife, 44-year-old Connie Reiter, faces charges of conspiracy and receiving stolen property.
David Reiter, of South Park, was hired as Westminster Presbyterian Church’s financial administrator in 2001 and stayed in that role for about 17 years. He is accused of skimming money from the church’s funds between 2011 and 2018, according to the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.
During that time, Reiter was apparently an active member of the church ― playing keyboard for contemporary worship services and leading staff in worship during Christmas, Westminster’s senior pastor, Rev. Jim Gilchrist, told CBS affiliate KDKA on Tuesday.
“Everybody trusted him,” Gilchrist said.
Reiter allegedly falsified church accounts and created fake audit reports to cover his thefts. The complaint states that he charged about $220,000 in personal expenses on the church’s credit card and also made smaller unauthorized payroll transfers from church accounts to his personal accounts over the years.
The church funds were reportedly used to pay for vacations to Walt Disney World, Hershey Park and Cedar Point. Other expenses allegedly included Pittsburgh Pirates baseball tickets, music lessons for the Reiters’ children, restaurant bills, pet care, medical expenses, groceries, vehicle repairs and scrapbooking supplies.
Westminster Presbyterian Church’s board became suspicious in November when it attempted to perform a financial audit and was repeatedly told by Reiter that the auditor wasn’t available for a face-to-face interview. Reiter later gave a board member a cellphone number for the auditor but the person on the other end of the line was actually Reiter using a prepaid cellphone purchased with church funds, according to the complaint.
Reiter later confessed to Gilchrist that he had stolen money from the church, telling the pastor he did it “to make things better at home,” the complaint states.
“There was a tremendous amount of forethought and deception in this, which is all the more sad and just a sense of betrayal,” Gilchrist told KDKA.
The couple made an initial court appearance on Tuesday but didn’t enter pleas, The Associated Press reported. It’s unclear if they have retained attorneys.
Connie Reiter posted bail but her husband remains in jail, a district attorney’s spokesman told HuffPost on Thursday.
A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 28.