Former Director Accused of Stealing $1.4 Million From Benefit Fund for Pennsylvania Episcopal Clergy

[Episcopal News Service] The former administrator of the Clergy Assurance Fund, a nonprofit insurance corporation that has served the families of Episcopal clergy in Pennsylvania for centuries, is under investigation after a forensic audit found he misappropriated more than $1.4 million from the fund.

The allegations against John Miller, who served as executive director and treasurer until March 2022, were first detailed publicly in an Oct. 13 report by The Living Church. Internal documents cited by The Living Church and later obtained by Episcopal News Service show that Miller initially drew suspicion when improper credit card charges were found totaling more than $20,000.

When the fund’s Audit Committee chair confronted Miller about the improper charges in March, Miller said he mistakenly thought the charges were allowed by fund policy, and he chose to retire rather than face termination, according to a summary of the case provided to the fund’s board by Vice President James Pope in a July 11 letter. An annual financial audit revealed that Miller also had written checks to himself that were “duplicates of payments of death benefits to beneficiaries,” according to Pope, who also serves as treasurer of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

The Clergy Assurance Fund hired accounting firm BBD to conduct a more extensive forensic audit. Its report, dated June 28, confirmed that Miller had used the duplicate checks – at least one with Pope’s signature forged – to conceal deposits of $1,425,400 into his personal checking account from January 2016 to March 2022. It also listed the improper credit card charges, most of which were categorized as health care and transportation expenses, such as Uber rides.

“It is shocking that Mr. Miller, a long-term employee and officer of the Clergy Assurance Fund and an active Episcopalian, had abused the trust placed in him,” Pope said in a more recent letter to policyholders, the text of which was provided to ENS by a fund spokesman. “We are committed to doing all we can to support law enforcement in their investigations into these deceitful and criminal acts.”

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Source: Episcopal News Service