Noah Njegovan, a former executive archdeacon of the diocese of Brandon, who pleaded guilty in December to stealing more than $190,000 from the diocese, was handed down a 22-month conditional sentence Tuesday morning, January 9, by Justice John Menzies of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Brandon, Man.
Under the terms of his sentence, Njegovan will be confined to his home for 12 months—only allowed to leave the house for work, medical emergencies and four hours each Saturday to obtain necessities—and under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the remaining 10 months of his sentence. He will have a criminal record for theft over $5,000.
“This is commonly known as ‘house arrest,’ with very strict curfew and supervision conditions,” said diocese of Brandon Bishop William G. Cliff in a letter to his diocese January 9. “Mr. Njegovan will be able to go to work and will have four hours per week for necessary maintenance. Otherwise, he must remain at his home and at any time, be able to prove to police that he is there. Should the police check on him and he is not there, he will finish the rest of his sentence in a provincial institution.”
The theft charge, laid in 2015, involved purchases made with a corporate credit card while Njegovan was executive archdeacon, between January 2010 and August 2012. At the time, Njegovan also served as assistant to his father, then-Bishop of Brandon James Njegovan.
According to a statement released by the diocese December 11, the day he entered his guilty plea, Njegovan repaid the diocese the full $192,000; $75,000 of this amount will pay the diocese’s insurance coverage.
If Njegovan had not pleaded guilty and not repaid the stolen $192,000, “the Crown would have sought a jail term,” Manitoba Prosecution Service general counsel James Ross wrote in response to an email sent by the Anglican Journal to the Crown counsel’s office.
Conditional sentences were removed as a sentencing option in November 2012, Ross wrote, but as the offence preceded the change, Njegovan is “entitled to be sentenced under the law at the time he offended.” Ross also said that if Njegovan were to breach the terms of the sentence, it would likely result in the remainder of the sentence being converted to incarceration in jail.
Njegovan used the money for personal use, on items like meals and bar bills, hotels, a Netflix subscription and massages, as well as two trips to Las Vegas, according to a civil suit the diocese filed against him in 2014. Though the credit card had a limit of $2,500, Njegovan was able to pay off the card, using online banking, from a diocesan savings account. He also hid credit card statements and lied to church auditors about what payments were used for.
According to the CBC, Njegovan apologized to the church and to those affected by his actions.
In a victim impact statement, the bishop of the diocese of Brandon told the court “that while the diocese may never recover from the incident as donations have drastically dropped, the church forgives Njegovan and doesn’t want him to go to jail,” the CBC reported.
“This concludes the matter entirely and the Diocese of Brandon is content that both justice and mercy have been served,” said Cliff in his January 9 letter to his diocese. “It is our hope that this will help the people of the Diocese grow together in forgiveness and toward the future God intends for us.
“The sentencing is the culmination of five and a half years of discovery and investigation on the part of the Diocese, and several years of court appearances,” said Cliff in his letter to his diocese.
With Njegovan’s guilty plea and repayment, the diocese is withdrawing its lawsuit, Cliff told the Anglican Journal in an e-mail last December. “Our hope now is for healing and reconciliation, both for the diocese and the Njegovan family, who are part of the diocese,” he said.
In its December 11 statement, the diocese also said that Njegovan has relinquished his exercise of ordained ministry, and will “no longer function or be listed as a priest.” Previously, Njegovan was listed as “on leave” from the diocese of Brandon.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Diocese of Brandon Bishop William G. Cliff.