Priest to spend two years in prison for fraud fueled by gambling
Published Tuesday, October 22, 2019 1:23PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 22, 2019 4:16PM EDT
LONDON, Ont. - Amer Saka, a former priest at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, has been sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud last January.
He was charged with fraud in 2016 after documents showed that Saka took money that was supposed to help refugees coming to Canada and gambled it away.
Saka told the court in January he had a serious gambling addiction. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
While living in Baghdad his brother was murdered and years later his mother was shot and killed while in his arms. The court heard that gambling took away the horror of his memories.
In handing down the sentence Tuesday, Justice Allan Maclure recommended Saka serve his time in a minimum-security facility.
He added that he did not believe the crime was consistent with Saka’s way of life.
The court heard that Saka took more than $900,000 and gambled it away.
“These victims were the most vulnerable. They were displaced people coming from another country,” Maclure said.
Saka was quiet while listening to the sentence and had the help of an interpreter in court.
He was given a restitution order but court heard it is unlikely he will be able to pay back all of the money.