Former Priest arrested for allegedly spending $40K in church funds on Candy Crush

Ethan Dean
Candy Crush total levels

A Catholic priest has been arrested and officially charged with stealing over $40,000 of church funds, allegedly to fuel his mobile gaming habits.

Reverand Lawrence Kozak served the St. Thomas More church in Pottstown Pennsylvania before his alleged crimes were discovered in 2022. He was arrested at the time on suspicion of using the parish credit card to rack up more than $40,000 in expenses.

Following this, Kozak was removed from his position at the church and placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. On Thursday, April 25, 2024, the 51-year-old ex-clergyman was officially charged with theft and other related crimes.

According to reports from The Philadelphia Enquirer, the misappropriated funds were primarily spent on in-app purchases for the mobile games Candy Crush and Mario Kart Tour. While other purchases were made, the bulk of the money was spent via the App Store.

Priest denies intentionally spending church funds on Candy Crush

Those investigating the case said that an accountant working for the church uncovered “an astronomical amount of Apple transactions” linked to the parish credit card. This occurred during an inspection of the church’s finances and the spending reportedly began in September 2019 and ended when Kozak was discovered in July 2022.

In initial interviews with detectives, Kozak denied making the purchases with the church credit card intentionally. He said the credit card was linked to his phone for authorized church payments on software and streaming services.

Kozak claimed that the accidental spending on Candy Crush and other mobile games came from a lack of detail orientation. Detectives relayed that he was “disappointed that he had let it get to this point” and he had “no excuse, except that he wasn’t paying attention and should have been.”

Financial records indicate that Kozack used $10,000 of his own money to pay a portion of the credit card debt. Since being arrested, he has also paid another $8,000 to the church in the form of a check and an accompanying apology.

Prosecutors refute that the spending was accidental and advocacy group Catholics4Change has been working with the church during the investigation. “This is a crime that needs to be prosecuted,” a spokesperson said. “It’s good that it’s in the hands of the court and not just the Archdiocese.”

About The Author

Ethan Dean is a Staff Writer on the Australian Dexerto team. He graduated from RMIT with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and has been freelance writing in the gaming space ever since. His favorite game is the third-person, open world flavor of the month and when he doesn't have a controller in his hands, there's a paintbrush in them. He's a self-described Warhammer nerd and a casual DnD player too. You can contact Ethan at