Priest Wants Case Dropped: Ex-Waltham Pastor Seeks Dismissal of Theft Allegations

By Jennifer Roy
Daily News [MetroWest MA]
August 24, 2004

The former Waltham pastor accused of bilking $135,000 from a Trapelo Road church over six years is expected back in court Thursday.

A ruling on a motion to dismiss the case against the Rev. Joseph Byrne is possible, Middlesex District Attorney spokeswoman Melissa Sherman said.

Byrne, the former pastor of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted, is accused of stealing from the church to buy cars, dinners and to pay for his East Falmouth home.

Defense attorney Henry Katz has claimed Byrne, 60, now a pastor at St. Patrick's in Plymouth, is the victim of bad bookkeeping and poor money management.

Thursday's request for a dismissal will be Katz' sixth since Byrne pleaded not guilty to seven counts of grand larceny over $250. He was indicted by a grand jury in January 2003.

"He didn't have the intention to permanently deprive anyone of their property," Katz has said of Byrne. "There was no attempt to take money away from anybody and the church agreed to that."

Katz has said a lot of the cash in church accounts got "co-mingled" with Byrne's private accounts, money he used to pay for things for the parish.

The money has been paid back, and the church, Katz has said, may actually owe Byrne.

Byrne was charged after a 10-month investigation by the Waltham Police Department and the Special Investigations Division of the Middlesex DA's office.

(Jennifer Roy can be reached at 781-398-8005 or )


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