Canadian Priest Gambled Away $500,000 in Syria Refugee Aid

Priest Suspended from Church, Arrested Last Week

Canadian priest Amer Saka has bee suspended from his Hamilton, ON diocese and arrested on charges of stealing some $500,000 in aid money earmarked for the resettlement of Syrian refugees, and squandering it on gambling.

Bishop Emanuel Shaleta, the head of the church, confirmed that Saka had called him and admitted to gambling away the money. Saka was deeply involved in a program that was sponsoring and helping refugees resettle into Canada.

Police opened an investigation into the incident back in February. Saka was arrested this past week, and released on bail after being charged with fraud. The court reportedly also ordered him to stay out of casinos in the interim.

The diocese had reportedly applied to bring 20 refugees from Syria, who were presently in Iraq, into Canada, though they said only 10 or 11 of them had actually arrived. Saka was said to be with the refugee resettlement program for nine years.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of