Federal judge sentences man to prison for stealing tens of thousands from metro churches

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A federal judge sentenced a 60-year-old man to a year and a day behind bars for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from two Catholic churches over a period of seven years. David Townley was supposed to pay bills and keep records, but instead the judge said he abused his role and took advantage of trust.

"We always struggled with the bills and it seemed like no matter what we did, we weren’t getting anywhere," Fr. Bob Stone of Nativity of Mary Catholic Church said.

Fr. Stone said he completely trusted Townley, who worked at the parish as a business manager. He said Townley was "a very nice guy and he was kind of pastoral with people."

When the staff realized payroll numbers were off, tuition funds weren't adding up, and taxes weren't getting paid, they did an audit and learned of Townley's discrepancies.

"There were a lot of people very betrayed and very angry," Fr. Stone said.

Investigators with the Secret Service learned between Fr. Stone's church and also Sacred Heart of Guadalupe in Kansas City, Townley stole nearly $87,000 between 2006-2013.

"It took a good four years to recover. We slowly began to recover what was going on here," Fr. Stone said.

Fr. Stone said they've since put more controls in place around the church's money, and healing began when Townley pleaded guilty. Fr. Stone said he's glad Townley must answer to a higher power.

"It's the hands of God and the hands of the judge. Whatever they decide is going to be fine with me," he said.