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Police: Contractor scammed own church

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 05 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 06 2013 05:07:22 AM CDT

Police say it is a story of betrayal.

SHILLINGTON, Pa. -

Police say it is a story of betrayal. A contractor is accused of ripping off his own church.

Police say Robert Mathias received $7,000 from St. John's in Shillington to complete building repairs. But he never did the work and now he faces charges.

"Yea, that is just like a member of your own family just really stabbing you in the back," said parishioner Sean Gipprach.

Back in October 2011, Saint John Baptist La Salle Church of Shillington hired Mathias to tear down an existing porch, build a new porch and repair the roof.

"The church looked for three different bids, accepted his bid, paid him promptly after accepting the bid and despite repeated requests to do the work, he never actually began the work at the church," said First Assistant District Attorney Theresa Johnson.

Members of St. John's say they are disappointed to hear that it was a parishioner who deceived the church.

"That is not right. If you get money for something that you are supposed to do, I feel that you should be reliable enough to do it. It is just sad that it has to happen to a great community and a parish like Saint John's," said Gipprach.

"What is so troubling is that it was a person of trust. Obviously he was a member of the church so the church had a trust with him. So anytime something happens where trust is violated, that is just more painful than not knowing the person," said Johnson.

Mathias never refunded the $7,000 he was paid to start work on the church. He turned himself in and is charged with deceptive or fraudulent business practices, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Mathias was released on $10,000 bail.