NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — New Castle Police say a church organist stole thousands of dollars from his church over the course of several months.
According to police, St. Joseph the Worker Church hired independent security consultants to conduct an internal investigation when they suspected money was being stolen from their church offerings, which were temporarily stored in a safe at the church.
During their investigation, the consultants found video evidence of the church organist — 41-year-old James Hackett, of Wampum, Pa. — in the safe and turned the findings over to New Castle Police.
On Sunday, police put marked currency into the St. Joseph the Worker Church safe and conducted surveillance on Hackett. At the end of St. Joseph’s service, Hackett went to St. Mary’s Church, where he is also an organist.
Police then followed him as he went back to St. Joseph. They then saw him on surveillance cameras going into the church’s safe and removing handfuls of money from envelopes.
Officers pulled Hackett over as he was driving away from the church. They found more than $1,200 in Hackett’s pocket and placed him under arrest.
When Hackett was interrogated, he admitted that he had been stealing money from St. Joseph the Worker Church about three times a month since November.
The investigation is ongoing, but police believe he may have stolen between $10,000 and $15,000 from the church over the course of several months.
Hackett was sent to the Lawrence County Jail. He is facing charges of theft and receiving stolen property.