NORTHBORO (CBS) — The Pastor of Saint Bernadette Parish has resigned after allegations surfaced he stole more than $200,000 to fuel a gambling addiction.
Father Stephen M. Gemme has served as pastor since 2003.
The announcement was posted on the parish’s website in a letter from Bishop of Worcester Robert McManus.
McManus said the investigation began after he received a letter from a member of the St. Bernadette School Advisory Board with concerns about expenditures from a single account in the school budget.
When McManus questioned Gemme, he admitted he has a gambling problem.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
“It appears that during the last four years, more than $110,000 of school funds and more than $120,000 of parish funds were used by Fr. Gemme for personal expenditures unrelated to the parish or school. As a result of the magnitude of the misuse of funds, the matter has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office,” McManus wrote to parishioners.
Gemme was appointed pastor in 2003 and re-appointed in 2009 for a second six-year term.
In 2004, the parish merged with Saint Ann Parish and Saint Mary’s parish in Marlboro and grew from 400 to 800 families.
According to the parish website, In 2006, a Capital Campaign was launched that raised $800,000, providing for many capital improvements to the campus, including a new roof and air conditioning for the parish church, a new playground for the school, a new floor for our gym, and $75,000 a year for 4 years for tuition assistance.
Gemme has been on medical leave since mid-July, staying in a residential treatment facility.
“I am shocked. I really didn’t know something like this was going on,” Stephen’s father, Raymond Gemme said.
Bishop McManus said he will pursue full restitution for the parish and school and a new pastor will soon be named.
“Even in light of this serious breach of trust, we must remember that Fr. Gemme has done much good for many of you and your families,” Bishop McManus said.
WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton contributed to this report.