Maple Glen principal charged with multiple felonies in theft from Catholic school

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Upper Dublin Township Police Chief Francis Wheatley have announced the arrest of John C. McGrath, 56, of East Norriton, on multiple felonies related to the theft of more than $25,000 from Our Lady of Mercy Regional Catholic School in Maple Glen.

According to the school’s website, McGrath started his employment at the school in 2014. He previously taught elementary within the Archdiocese for a decade. Before he pursued a career in education, he was a police officer in the Philadelphia Police Department for 20 years.

The investigation was initiated when Upper Dublin Police were contacted on November 4, 2021, by an official with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding an internal investigation that indicated that the Our Lady of Mercy Regional Catholic School Principal John McGrath had been stealing school funds over a period of time. The resulting police investigation by Upper Dublin police discovered that McGrath had made unauthorized payments for personal expenses, a vacation and entertainment expenses using school credit cards totaling $25,436.54.

According to the announcement, McGrath used a school-issued credit card, Venmo, and Amazon for fraudulent transactions. These transactions include the use of a Venmo account tied to a school credit card to make 11 transactions that were found to be personal totaling $12,777.15. These transactions included five personal rent payments. A school credit card was used for 76 additional transactions totaling $7,905.29, which were also found to be personal. Those charges were for restaurants, bars, Door Dash, Uber, hotel stays, and purchases on Amazon for clothing and housewares, some of which were gifted to a teacher at the school.

Additionally, charges on the school credit card totaling $3,554.10 were for a non-existent conference in Washington, D.C. The expenses were for a hotel stay and restaurants for a vacation taken by McGrath, his brother, and a teacher.

In mid-2020, McGrath collected $1,200 via his personal Venmo account from school families in order to purchase “OLM Strong” T-shirts. This money was never transferred to the school.

McGrath was charged with multiple felonies including Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activity, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Receiving Stolen Property, and Access Device Fraud, as well as Unsworn Falsification to Authorities.

He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Patricia A. Zaffarano, who set bail at $50,000 unsecured, and he was released. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1st at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Zaffarano. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Tanner C. Beck, captain of the Economic and Major Crimes Unit.