BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A former employee at St. Amelia Church in Tonawanda has been accused by diocese officials of fraudulently misusing parish funds.
According to a “St. Amelia Fraud Case Update” included the Jan. 28 bulletin published by the Roman Catholic Community of the Tonawandas, a grand jury hearing was convened “to help bring formal charges” against the church’s former business manager, Lisa Noble.
The bulletin item claimed Noble, who was hired in March, “broke protocol following her training which led to her being able to misuse funds at St. Amelia’s.”
Father Mike LaMarca of St. Amelia told News 4 on Monday that “the investigation is in the hands of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, and there is no more information to share than what has already been shared in our church communications.”
A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
The Diocese of Buffalo said in a September 2023 statement that a St. Amelia employee was placed on administrative leave from the parish and fired a week after an internal audit department review that found “potential financial improprieties.”
LaMarca said the church community is “upset” and feels betrayed by the alleged theft. According to LaMarca, the parish is slowly seeing money come back from the bank.
“Efforts are underway, through fraud claims and insurance, to reclaim as much of the funds as possible,” the Jan. 28 bulletin item read.
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Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.