National Catholic Reporter

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'Affinity fraud' and the parish priest

 |  NCR Today

Tougher charges against priest accused of stealing $300,000

The potential penalty a Catholic priest faces if found guilty of theft has increased as a result of DuPage County prosecutors being allowed to alter the wording of criminal charges against him. The Rev. John Regan, 46, who served at St. Walter's Parish in Roselle from 2006 to 2008, is accused of stealing more than $300,000 from parishioners.

Regan now faces a maximum 30-year prison term if convicted of the 21 financial charges against him. Judge John Kinsella ruled that prosecutors were within their rights to change the wording of the charges to read that the alleged crimes took place "in a place of worship" instead of "from a place of worship." The word change increases the potential penalty from a Class One crime, which allows a sentence of probation or a four- to 15-year prison sentence, to a Class X crime with a mandatory prison sentence of six to 30 years

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Here in my Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., a former popular priest, Fr. Michael Moynihan, is credibly accused of a massive theft.

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"The results of two financial reviews of St. Michael the Archangel have found that former pastor [Father] Michael Moynihan stole almost half a million dollars from the church during his service. According to the Diocese of Bridgeport he “engaged in a pattern of self-dealing, deceit and submitting falsified and misleading documents to the substantial detriment of our Parish.”

The amounts in question range from $400,000 to $2 million.

Then the New York Post broke a story of Fr. Moynihan having at least the appearance of an inappropriate relationship with an man, which the Bridgeport diocese knew about some time earlier, but relied on Fr. Moynihan's denial, and it was never disclosed.

In 2009 I wrote a story comparing Bernie Madoff and Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Legion of Christ founder and patriarch, and the use of "affinity fraud" to steal millions of dollars from people, among other crimes. This is effectively what Fr. Moynihan is accused of doing. The patterns of behavior are the same.

Meanwhile, not a peep from the Bridgeport diocese or Conn. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (who has more than enough authority of bring a legal action against Fr. Moynihan) or the U.S. Attorney's office.

I wonder if Google Map can find the rug under which all this stuff gets swept?

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