Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Priest Stole $1.3M From Church For Male Escorts

Rev. Kevin J. Gray is a liar and a thief and, oh, yes, he's in jail. The 64-year-old well-known Roman Catholic priest was arrested this morning in Waterbury, Conn. after he was found to have embezzled $1.3 million from the Sacred Heart/Sagrado Corazon parish over a seven-year period to spend on his young male "friends" -- and by "friends," we mean escorts -- whom he wined and dined at fabulous restaurants throughout the Northeast and when they were done eating, he took them back to fabulous hotels to...you know. Let's just say, old man Kevin is a professional at giving professionals.
Gray said he started taking money once he was transferred to Sacred Heart in 2003 "because he felt the church owed it to him," the affidavit states. He admitted to writing himself checks, paying his American Express bills and paying money to Zhong for his rent. He told police he used his American Express card to purchase clothes, dinners, hotel rooms and escort services. Gray stated that he would order male escorts from Campus Escorts in New York. He said he would have the escorts meet him in hotel rooms he had rented. Gray told police that he is gay and has a problem with the church's stance on homosexuality, the affadavit says. Since May 24, 2003, $655,936.48 worth of checks from the church funds were cashed by American Express to pay for charges to Gray's account, the affidavit states. Charges to Gray's account between May 2003 and March 2010 included $205,679.78 to restaurants in New York, Boston and Connecticut, including several visits to New York's Tavern On The Green, Boston's Legal Seafood and New Haven's Scoozzi Trattoria and Wine Bar, the affidavit states. Gray charged nearly $150,000 in stays at high-end hotels in New York City, Boston and New Haven, including frequent stays at The Roosevelt Hotel, the W Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria in New York, police said. The affidavit also states that Gray opened credit card accounts in the names of Manuel Paque, a man Gray met at a male strip bar, and Islagar Labrada, a man Gray met through an escort service, on Gray's own account. Paque charged $67,755.12 between March 2006 and November 2007 for various items, including furniture, electronics and cell phone bills, as well as $5,410 to LaGuardia Community College, police said. Gray was paying for Paque to attend nursing school but stopped paying and lost contact with Paque when Paque dropped out of nursing school to attend beautician school. Gray told police he would not pay for that, the affidavit states. Gray also took several trips to Ecuador in the summers of 2003 through 2006 to visit Christian Baquero, police said. He said he met Baquero while he was a priest at St. Margaret's Church in Waterbury and Baquero was a parishioner. He had since moved to Ecuador. Gray told police he had sent money to Baquero in Ecuador and had flown to see him, police said. Police found MoneyGrams sent from Gray to Baquero in the church basement. The 47 MoneyGrams totaled $16,700 and were sent to Ecuador between June 25, 2003 and Dec. 20, 2008, the affadavit says. Labrada charged $49,998.61 to his card from June 2003 through September 2003, police said. Among his charges were almost $9,000 in Crunch Fitness Gym membership fees, a stay at a Sheraton Hotel in Buena Vista, Fl., artwork and Louis Vuitton merchandise. Between June 2003 and May 2010, Gray also used the American Express to rack up $80,612.24 in charges at pricey clothing stores like Brooks Brothers, Barney's and Armani, the affidavit states. He charged $19,450.11 to jewelry stores, including Tiffany, and spent $22,259.71 on Apple computers, furniture and electronics. He charged a total of $8,328.48 for airfare to several destinations for both himself and other men. Police found that each of six charges made in 2004 and 2005 to Campus Male Escort service in New York, which totaled $3,280, coincided with six hotel transaction dates, according to the document. Several hundred checks worth a total of $1,475,944.67 were written from the church account by Gray, police said. Gray wrote and cashed 729 checks, which totaled $639,985, to himself from the Sacred Heart bank account between June 2, 2003 and April 12, 2010. He wrote 202 checks to [Weirui Zhong, a 35-year-old man with whom he has been living in NYC with since he left the church rectory in 2005] from May 1, 2005 to April 4, 2010, totaling $163,850, the warrant states. Three checks worth a total of $2,706.65 were cashed by One Stop Travel Agency, and two checks totaling $1,650 were cashed by Land Jet Bus Lines, the warrant says. Gray's total salary from 2003 through the present totals $184,331, police said. The total amount in checks written by Gray and cashed against the church account, minus his salary totals $1,291,613.67.
Despite all of this, Rev. Kevin "How You Doin" Gray was only charged with first-degree larceny.

Here's the criminal report:

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