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November 12, 2018

Longtime New Jersey pastor resigns after allegedly stealing $500,000 from parish

November 7, 2018
Rev. Douglas J. Haefner for 27 years served as a pastor at St. Matthias Church in Franklin Township before the alleged misconduct came to light. (Obtained by the New York Daily News)

A New Jersey pastor has resigned after saying that his compulsive tendencies drove him to steal $500,000 from his parish.

Rev. Douglas J. Haefner had a 27-year run as a pastor at St. Matthias Church in Franklin Township before the alleged misconduct came to light.




The alleged theft was revealed in a Nov. 2. letter from the Diocese of Metuchen to the church’s parishioners, Nj.com reported.

“It is with sadness that I must inform you that Father’s resignation coincides with serious questions and concerns that recently have been raised regarding the handling of parish finances,” the letter, signed by bishop James F. Checchio, said. “…Father came to me about his own health problems and these financial issues in recent weeks and has expressed his sorrow for his actions and for letting us all down.”

Checchio told hundreds of parishioners Monday that the disgraced pastor “borrowed” roughly $500,000 from the parish.

Diocese spokeswoman Erin Friedlander said law enforcement is investigating the alleged theft. An internal audit is also ongoing, though it’s unclear exactly where the money was taken from.

Haefner confessed that he was in poor health and also had “emotional problems.”

“He said, ‘…Some of my emotional problems have led to compulsive behavior on my part, and the compulsive behavior cost money,’” Checchio said, according to the report. Haefner also admitted to having “borrowed” money from the parish.

Checchio recommended that Haefner’s physical and mental health be evaluated, and both parties agreed that it would be best if Haefner resigned.

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