Rev. Daniel Dahlberg admits stealing $10K from church, gambling it away

Rev. Daniel J. Dahlberg had an itch for a little gambling money.

So he took some from the people in his flock. Dahlberg, the 68-year-old pastor of St. Patrick's in Hudson, Wisconsin, was charged this week with stealing $10,800 from the church's fund for the needy.

"It is very likely that this misconduct is the result of a serious gambling addiction which has led to personal financial issues and impaired Fr. Dan's judgment," church trustees Samuel Cari and Claire Zajac wrote in a letter.

Since he joined St. Patrick's in 2009, Dahlberg had sole access to the church's fund for helping local people. Over a period of 16 months, he slowly nabbed $10,800 from the fund. When irregularities started to appear in the church books, the church leadership became suspicious and confronted him, and Dahlberg admitted that he'd taken the money.

The erring priest stepped down from his post on March 21,and started treatment for his addiction shortly after, according to a recent letter to parishioners at the church.

The church trustees set up a plan for Dahlberg to pay back the full amount, and before he departed Dahlberg remitted his first $500. Then an anonymous third party offered Dahlberg a check made out for $10,300, so Dahlberg was off the hook. He handed over the full amount.

Dahlberg took over as pastor of St. Patrick's in 2009. Before, he'd worked as vicar general of Wisconsin's Superior Diocese, the diocese's second-highest post, from 1998.

St. Patrick's has been through a lot. In 2002, the funeral director Daniel O'Connell, 39, and James Ellison, 22 were shot at the O'Connell family's funeral home in northwestern Wisconsin. In 2004, their pastor the Rev. Ryan Erickson, hanged himself just days after police questioned him about the killings. A year later, a St. Croix County judge found probable cause that Erickson shot O'Connell and Ellison, and that he'd probably molested at least one teenage boy.

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