May 30, 2015 10:54 AM
Church scammer gets three years in prison, must repay congregations
BRENTWOOD — A man who lied to get money from several Seacoast churches has been sentenced to three years in prison and must pay back the roughly $1,500 he took.
The Union Leader reports that Joseph Grieco of Methuen, Mass., pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge and must repay the Seacoast churches he scammed between July 29 and Sept. 3.
He was arrested by Kensington police last September after a church official became suspicious of Grieco’s story about needing money for train fare to New York so he could identify the body of his late brother.
A police investigation revealed that Grieco used a similar ruse on church officials at parishes in Kensington, Hampton, Portsmouth and Seabrook.
“Joe admitted he has a gambling problem and owes a gambling bookmaker over $8,000,” Kensington police Detective Scott Cain said in a sworn affidavit. “He said his bookmaker was going to kill him if he didn’t produce $1,000 by the end of the week. His bookmaker gave him the idea of how to scam churches for money.”
Kensington Congregational Church, Exeter Presbyterian Church, Hampton’s United Methodist Church and Trinity Episcopal Church, Seabrook’s Trinity United Church and Church of Christ and the North Church in Portsmouth were among the churches allegedly duped out of money by Grieco.