CHICAGO
08/18/2011 10:03 am ET | Updated Oct 17, 2011

John Regan, Catholic Priest Who Stole From Parish To Fuel Gambling Habit, Sentenced To 60 Days In Jail

A former Roselle, Ill., priest was sentenced Tuesday to 60 days in jail, plus an order to pay $295,000 in restitution, for stealing from parish donations in order to fuel a riverboat casino gambling addiction.

John Regan, 47, could have faced a sentence of up to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to gambling away donated money from his parishioners between 2006 and 2008, but a DuPage County judge aimed to teach him "a little humility" with his sentence, which also included 150 days of menial labor in an in-jail program, 500 hours of community service and 40 days on work detail at the county sheriff's office, the Daily Herald reports.

"You basically went out in the dark of night with other people’s money and fed an addiction," Judge John Kinsella told Regan, according to the Daily Herald. "No sentence I can impose on you can undo the harm you did to that parish. If I thought the world would be a better place locking you up for 30 to 40 months in a cell in southern Illinois, I would."

Regan was reportedly tearful and apologetic before his sentence was delivered. He said he could not control his theft because he was addicted to gambling, an addiction for which he has undergone eight months of in-patient treatment and continued to attend therapy. He described the hurt he caused his parishioners as "reprehensible," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I’ve come to the realization that how I could do it was because I have a gambling addiction," Regan said. "My gambling addiction doesn’t know what vocation I have. It just knows I’m a human being."

Regan was originally indicted in February 2009, several months after bank officials began to notice strange transactions that they traced back to Regan. Between 2006 and 2008, while pastor of St. Walter Catholic Church, he was charged with depositing thousands of dollars in collection plate offerings into a personal account from which he made personal credit card payments, wrote checks to himself and gambled at casinos. He pleaded guilty to charges of theft over $100,000 and continuing a financial crimes enterprise in June.