Gambling priest sentenced to one year in jail

Joseph LeClair, former priest of Blessed Sacrament Church, is photographed leaving the Ottawa...

Joseph LeClair, former priest of Blessed Sacrament Church, is photographed leaving the Ottawa courthouse on January 20, 2014. (Darren Brown/QMI Agency)

Megan Gillis, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:38 PM ET

OTTAWA — Father Joe Leclair was sentenced Wednesday to a year behind bars after a judge concluded house arrest wouldn’t be enough punishment for the charismatic priest turned “pathological gambler” who bilked his church.

Leclair, 57, pleaded guilty in January to fraud and theft of about $130,000 from Blessed Sacrament Parish -- although there was a total of $400,000 in unexplained deposits into his personal accounts from 2006 to 2010.

Journalists were booted from the courtroom so Leclair could have a private meeting with his supporters.

Earlier, Judge Jack Nadelle said he had more than 200 letters from Leclair supporters.

The popular priest clearly went beyond his duties, but he can’t benefit from the reputation that allowed him to fleece his church in the first place, Nadelle said.

“The fact that the accused was in a position of trust is the most aggravating factor,” Nadelle said. “Every time he took some money, he was committing a criminal offence.


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