Priests jailed for $8.6 million theft

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two Roman Catholic Church priests in the United States, were sentenced to prison for theft. They were convicted of stealing over US$8 million from St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Delray Beach, Florida.

Retired Monsignor John A. Skehan and Reverend Francis B. Guinan were accused in 2006 of misappropriation of funds from the church collection plates and church bequests.

Judge Jeffrey Colbath handed down the sentence on Skehan who received 14 months in prison followed by seven years on probation. He plead guilty in January 2009 to grand theft of over $100,000. The defense, prosecutors and Diocese of Palm Beach had requested probation for Skehan, who is 81 years old. Skehan has paid back $750,000.

"The court finds the defendant is not merely sorry because he got caught, but is truly shameful, embarrassed and remorseful," Judge Jeffrey Colbath said. "The crime of the defendant was pure greed unmasked. There was not a shred of moral necessity to excuse the defendant's crime."

Circuit Judge Krista Marx sentenced Guinan who received four years in prison and was found guilty of theft of just under $100,000.

"No matter how many good works you have performed in your many years as a priest, your legacy will always be one of thievery and deceit," Judge Krista Marx said. Skehan had invested in a Co. Clare cottage, a Co. Kilkeeny pub, and two penthouse condominiums. As well as real estate he had purchased a collection of gold coins worth around $300,000. Both priests had embarked on gambling holidays and real estate ventures.


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