Priest Arrested For Using Church Funds On Candy Crush And Other Mobile Games

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There have been plenty of church scandals over the decades, but this might be the very first one that involves Candy Crush. Via The Philadelphia Inquirer, Reverend Lawrence Kozak was arrested in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on April 25 and charged with stealing over $40,000 in funds from his former parish, St. Thomas More Church. According to the report, Kozak’s vice of choice was mobile gaming, especially Candy Crush and Mario Kart.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia removed Kozak from his parish in November 2022 after an internal investigation determined that he spent “an astronomical amount of Apple transactions” on the church’s credit card. The charges span from September 2019 to July 2022. Kozak is also said to have used church funds to buy gifts for his goddaughter.

Kozak reportedly told investigators in 2022 that the money was used to “power up” and give him an advantage while playing his mobile games. Kozak added that he was “seeking counseling for his addiction,” and he denied intentionally using church funds for his games. Instead, Kozak says that the charges to the church’s credit cards happened because they were already linked to his cell phone.

The Philadelphia Inquirer states that financial records show that Kozak repaid $10,000 to the parish credit card account from his personal funds. The story also says that Kozak mailed an $8,000 check to his former parish after he had been removed from his post. Along with the check, Kozak wrote a note of apology to his successor at St. Thomas More, and he mentioned his attempts to repay the church.

Kozak is currently free on bail, and his attorney told The Philadelphia Inquirer that “he was reviewing the charges and planned to contact prosecutors about the case in the coming days.”