Levittown: 10-Year Term for Ex-Priest

By Robert Kessler
May 22, 2008,0,2876765.story

A defrocked Catholic priest was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison - double the time recommended by federal sentencing guidelines - for trying to lure a person who he thought was a 14-year-old boy to a sexual encounter, according to officials.

The "boy" was actually an undercover Nassau detective who had made contact on the Internet with the former priest, Thomas Bender, 73, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein at the federal court in Central Islip imposed the sentence on Bender for enticing a minor, noting he previously had been convicted of molesting a boy in his native state of Pennsylvania, and should have had the time to change his conduct, officials said.

After the sentencing, Bender's attorney, federal public defender Tracey Gaffey, declined to comment, as did federal prosecutor Allen Bode.

Bender was arrested in March 2006 at a Levittown pizzeria when he arrived with beer, candy, condoms and gay pornography, thinking he was going to have a liaison with a teenager, police have said.


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