Former Pastor Released from Jail
Despite Objections, He Served Less Than Six Months of a 5-Year Term

By Bob Cullinane
Ashbury Park Press [New Jersey]
December 5, 2006

The Rev. Joseph W. Hughes, the former pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Rumson who admitted to funding a lavish lifestyle with money drawn from the church treasury, was released from prison last week after serving less than six months of a five-year sentence.

The former pastor's release is noted on the Web site of the state Department of Corrections, which lists Hughes' release date as Nov. 29.

The priest, who purchased cars, a boat, a home and vacations with money culled from fundraisers and charity events, began serving his sentence on June 2 at the Mid-State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown.

First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw confirmed Hughes' release Monday, adding that his parole is directed by the state Department of Corrections.

A spokesman for the corrections department was not available for comment.

Warshaw said he does not know where Hughes, 62, is living or if he is employed.

He said the priest, who owes the wealthy parish more than $2 million in restitution, was admitted to the court's Intensive Supervision Program over the objections of the Prosecutor's Office.

In June, Hughes pleaded guilty to stealing more than $75,000 from the church from 1997 through 2004.

He agreed at the time to reimburse the church $2,032,422, as outlined in a civil judgment.

Hughes also admitted filing fraudulent tax returns and failing to pay state income taxes for the years 1997 through 2004. He agreed to pay $120,229 in back taxes.


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