Mineola parishioners hope to recoup money stolen from contractor

<p>Members of a Mineola congregation are trying to recoup their losses after they say a contractor stole thousands of dollars from the church.</p>

News 12 Staff

Aug 30, 2018, 2:45 AM

Updated 2,098 days ago

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Members of a Mineola congregation are trying to recoup their losses after they say a contractor stole thousands of dollars from the church.
Deacon Robert Klein says leaders of Grace International Assembly of God Church were hoping to expand the tiny house of worship by adding a sanctuary. But the contractor they hired to do the job was arrested last week.
Church officials say 72-year-old Gennaro Festa, of Freeport, stole $116,000 from the church. Prosecutors say that money was slated for the new sanctuary.
"It's unfortunate," says Klein. "You put your trust in people. You think they're going to do the right thing and sometimes they don't."
Prosecutors say the church wrote a check to Festa in 2014 for more than $116,000 to cover the cost of steel for the project. But they say Festa took the money and used it on food, gas and other personal expenses.

Officials tell News 12 the church discovered the alleged theft after the steel supplier notified them that Festa never ordered the supplies.
The sanctuary was supposed to be completed more than three years ago. Now that Festa's criminal case is underway, church officials say they're determined to make a comeback.
"We have a new contractor, they are working to get this done," Klein says. "They've actually got the siding and the roofing of this building. And once that's done they're going to build this up.”
The church is holding a fundraiser in October to raise money to cover the costs. Members hope the sanctuary will be completed by Christmas.


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