Connecticut embezzlement problem Several documented cases in Connecticut of church funds being embezzled by parish priests, leading to a proposed law that would turn control of each parish's finances over to a board of lay people, reported March 2009.
Archdiocese of Hartford Embezzlement
Gray embezzlement Rev. Kevin Gray of the Sacred Heart Parish, a financially struggling parish whose overwhelmingly Hispanic congregation he had led since 2003 He allegedly blew $1.3 million he stole on a New York Upper East Side apartment, male escorts, rooms at hotels (more than a $130,000, often on the same days he was hiring escorts), including the Waldorf, designer clothes ($80,000), trendy restaurants ($205,000 to Tavern on the Green, L'Absinthe, Brunelli and Giovanni) and tuition for several young studs, until March 2010.
- cellphone deal Gray's pricey tastes were partially subsidized by $221,000 a cellphone company paid to install a transmitter in his church's steeple. He hid the windfall from his archdiocesan bosses, who had banned such deals.
Archdiocese of Bridgeport Embezzlement
St. John parish embezzlement Series of revelations appeared about the parish of St. John in Darien, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and the life style of its pastor, Michael Jude Fay, May 2006.
- Fay spending Rev. Michael Jude (1951-2009) Fay ran St. John Roman Catholic Church transferred $34,000 of church funds into his own bank account in March 2006 that he used to pay a deposit on a condominium in Philadelphia. He secretly used $1,500 a month in church money to lease an Upper East Side pied-à-terre, saying it was because he was getting cancer treatments in New York. But auditors discovered that the lease began in August 2000, nine months before he got the cancer diagnosis. All told, he spent $87,000 to rent the Madison Avenue apartment and about $71,000 on limousines, mostly to and from Manhattan. Fay spent $140,000 of church money eating out during the roughly six-year audit period, on top of what the church paid local restaurants to feed the priests living at its rectory. He called it a job entitlement, even when he was on vacation. “Father Fay stated that he believes he was entitled to dine at any restaurant of his choosing, and as frequently as he desired, regardless of cost.” The report also said the priest asserted that $515,000 he withdrew from parish bank accounts went to “parishioners in need” whose names he could not divulge. However, auditors traced $380,000 of the money back to Fay’s personal accounts. He said the $51,000 that the parish spent transporting his mother between her home in New Jersey and Connecticut “for visits” was also entirely appropriate. All told, the auditors calculated that Fay was responsible for $1.4 million in questionable charges and payments 2000-2006. Fay was in a romantic relationship with another man. He was forced to resign 17 May 2006.
- Cliff Fantini Of $37,000 spent on furnishings, Fay acknowledged that some items ended up at a friend’s home in Philadelphia; he said he thought the friend, Cliff Fantini, had reimbursed the parish. Auditors found no records of a reimbursement. The priest also told auditors that money the church paid for some of Fantini’s travel was a recognition of services his friend provided the parish that were never billed. Fay and Fantini, a wedding planner, bought a condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., together, using $257,000 in church money.
- Madden whistle-blower Rev. Michael J. Madden (1961-) whose efforts led to the ouster of the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, the pastor. But Madden had to apologize during a Sunday Mass for hiring Vito Colucci, Jr., a private investigator, because he failed to inform the diocese, an action that caused Bishop William E. Lori to consider removing Madden from his post, May 2006. But parishioners rallied to Madden’s defense and the bishop kept him on. Madden resigned abruptly from the parish and the priesthood, 29 August 2006.
- Fay case Rev. Michael Fay pleaded guilty in September 2007 of embezzling more than $1.4 million in contributions. On 4 December 2007, a federal judge in New Haven sentenced Michael Jude Fay to 37 months in prison for a single count of "interstate transportation of money taken by fraud." He was ordered to pay $1,027,989 in restitution. The judge agreed to postpone the start of jail time to 2 April 2008, because of Fay's chemotherapy. In the plea bargain, Fay waived the right to appeal. He finally entered the Federal Devens facility in Ayer, Massachusetts, 21 October 2008.
- Fay memorandum Filed in state Superior Court in Waterbury 3 August 2009, said allegations made by the whistle-blower, bookkeeper Bethany D'Erario, were not immediately acted upon by the diocese in part because the priest, the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, had tight relationships with board members. "Fay not only handpicked the Board members, but he also admitted to Plaintiff that he had engaged in a homosexual affair with a married Church finance board member, often bragging to the Plaintiff that he was 'in bed' with the Board, both 'figuratively and literally,' " the memorandum states.
St. Michael the Archangel embezzlement Greenwich, Connecticut. The bank tipped off the feds that the pastor was withdrawing large sums from a parish account. It turns out there were two secret parish accounts of which Bishop Lori had not been notified. Then the New York Post revealed the ex-pastor's living arrangement. The accused is Rev. Michael Moynihan, ordained by John Paul II.
Diocese of Norwich Embezzlement
Licitra embezzlement' St. Bernard School employee, bus coordinator Salvatore R. Licitra's was arrested, and charged with embezzling nearly $850,000.
Rezendes embezzlement St. Mary Magdalen Church, Stonington, Connecticut, paid Beverly Rezendes $200 weekly to make sure vestments and altar linens were laundered and to take care of flowers and votive candles. In January, 2007, at least thirty parishioners complained to the pastor that their annual individual donation reports showed zero contributions for some weeks when they had actually contributed. Other suspicions of theft of votive candle revenue and envelope contributions surfaced. In May 2007, police charged the suspect, Beverly Rezendes, with first-degree larceny. When they did, the receipts jumped from approximately $4,000 a month, as recorded by Rezendes, to $12,000 a month. On November 6, 2007, she pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny, theft of more than $10,000. The exact amount is unclear, though the church estimates it is about $60,000. Bishop Michael Cote of Norwich asked the judge to suspend the thief's sentence. The judge, influenced by the bishop's request, sentenced Beverly Rezendes to two years in prison, fully suspended, 19 December 2007.
Rweyemamu affair Dispute between a Roman Catholic parish's African-born priest and Norwich Bishop Michael R. Cote that focused on Rweyemamu's role as president of a charitable organization that is unaffiliated with either the parish or the diocese. Reported 2 February 2005.
- Buguruka Orphan and Community Economic Development Inc. (BOCED) Bishop compiled 800 pages of documentation related to the organization. Rweyemamu refused to answer questions about BOCED posed by the bishop, a refusal that led to Cote's decision to order him to leave the organization.
St. Bernard HS embezzlement Diocese of Norwich took over a parish high school in New London and built a new campus in rural Montville, in busing distance between New London and Norwich.
- Camp Sunshine Label of phony checking account that was a vehicle for embezzlement by a school worker who already had a criminal record predating his hiring. The accused was charged with larceny, about $841,000 had gone missing. On 8 May 2008, he pleaded no contest to charges of embezzlement. He was sentenced to sixteen years with probation after seven, 28 August 2008.
St. Mary embezzlement St. Mary parish, Stonington, Connecticut, paid the suspect $200 weekly to make sure vestments and altar linens were laundered and to take care of flowers and votive candles. In January, 2007, at least thirty parishioners complained to the pastor that their annual individual donation reports showed zero contributions for some weeks when they had actually contributed. Other suspicions of theft of votive candle revenue and envelope contributions surfaced. In May 2007, police charged the suspect, Beverly Rezendes, with first-degree larceny. On November 6, 2007, she pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny, theft of more than $10,000. The exact amount is unclear, though the church estimates it is about $21,000. According to the November 8 article in the New London Day here, she has repaid $16,000. The headline is "Guilty Plea in Theft of Catholic Church Monies." Beverly Rezendes was sentenced to two years in prison, fully suspended, 19 December 2007.