O'Brien Denies Romley's 'Preferential' Claim

By Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
May 5, 2004

Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien is complying with his sentence and is progressing quickly toward fulfilling his community service obligation, the deputy chief of Maricopa County Superior Court's adult probation department said Tuesday.

Mike Goss, deputy chief of probation, said O'Brien is meeting regularly with probation officers. He was reacting to comments earlier in the day by Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, whose office prosecuted the former bishop.

Romley, at his weekly media briefing, said O'Brien received special treatment in how the community service was set up, allowing the retired bishop to control how the service is provided.

Romley also said he has been told that calls to the bishop's court-ordered hotline seeking help are not being returned, and that in one case O'Brien claimed more service time than he actually spent.

O'Brien denied the allegation in a statement from the diocese Tuesday and said he was complying with the sentence.

"I believe that the visits I have made have been satisfying to the sick and elderly and to me," he said.

O'Brien was convicted in February and sentenced in March for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. He is serving four years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service visiting the sick and dying.


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