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NYM Priest, former Sheriff's Department Chaplain, admits taking money from church accounts
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A longtime priest in the Village of New York Mills was in Oneida County Court in Utica on Wednesday, where he admitted to taking money from the church's bank account for his own use.
Father Valentine Krul pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny, facing five years probation with the first six months spent in the Oneida County Jail.
Father Val, as he was known by many in the community, was actually the chaplain for the Oneida County Sheriff's Department for more than 20 years. A priest for 34 years, he had been assigned to St. Mary's Church in New York Mills for the past 17 years.
In court on Wednesday, Krul said he had completed rehabilitation for stress, anxiety and alcohol in July 2011. He said that between October 2008 and January 2011, he took money from three church bank accounts at First Source Federal Credit Union, accounts made up of money from the parish, some of which included people's bequests, wills, and donations to the church.
Krul said that at one point he made a withdrawal of $46,720.91 for a condominium in Florida for himself.
He was ordered to pay back $87,391.33 in restitution. He said he is selling the condo and liquidating his retirement account for restitution.
Krul is scheduled to be sentenced in Oneida County Court in Utica on March 7, but chose to start serving his jail sentence immediately.
Authorities say the investigation began when Krul requested a leave of absence in 2011. Any time priests do that, the diocese audits their parish books. When the Syracuse Diocese did that, they say discrepancies surfaced. A diocese official was in court on Wednesday and hopes that people and parishioners don't lose faith in their priests.
"I think it's like any person you trust who has let you down. Remember that a priest, yes, is a representative of Christ, but a priest is also a human being....this is not a common occurrence, thankfully, thank God, and I would still hold that trust in individuals," says Communications Director Danielle Cummings.
It's not yet clear if Krul will remain a priest. He is currently suspended. Cummings says the Bishop will look at the entire case, including the sin/crime, forgiveness, restitution and whether he believes Krul is fit to continue a priestly ministry or live as a retired priest.
The case may even be sent to Rome for a final determination.