Appeal Keeps Priest in Jail
By Danielle Krout
We Are Central PA
November 6, 2014
|child sex abuse|
Father Joseph Maurizio will remain in the county jail until a second federal judge makes a ruling if he should be released while he awaits trial.
"The government wants to detain him and we want him to remain free,” said Steven Passarello, Attorney. “The government has decided to appeal which is apart of the process."
Thursday was third detention hearing for the priest. The US Attorney had two witnesses testified including an expert specialist for the IRS and a special agent with Homeland Security.
The IRS agent testified that there were a number of checks made to Maurizio as a refund for cash items he allegedly paid for but didn’t provide a receipt. He also allegedly made cash withdrawal of $9,700 the same day federal agents raided his home and church, according to prosecutors that money has never been found. US Attorney says Maurizio failed to disclose to the government more than $1 million that was in his personal accounts.
The agent went on to testify that Maurizio’s salary was in the $20,000- $25,000 range, and the cash, credit, and deposits didn’t add up. All of the money essentially ties back to Maurizio even through his charitable organizations, which the defense said they’ve agreed to freeze. A family member or the one witness who testified for the defense had to provide a second signature if Maurizio would access the money from several of his accounts or the church’s. The defense has claimed their client has made ‘wise investments over the years.’ Maurizio was also reimbursed by Our Lady Queen of Angels Church for all of his travel expenses which he paid for with his own cash. The government said Maurizio wired more than $10,000 to a priest in Honduras. Passarello said that was for food to feed starving kids in the orphanage.
"This is not an individual that is greedy and devoted his life to helping children not hurting children," said Passarello.
The agent for Homeland Security testified that they found possible one or two more victims in Honduras that claim Maurizio sexually abused them. The abuse happened when they were 12 or 13 and they are now in their 20’s.
Passarello said Maurizio has agreed to all of the governments request and he is not a flight risk or danger to the community. The judge agreed stating the defense did not prove he was a danger or a flight risk. He went on to state that Maurizio has only been indicted on one victim, not three or more the government has alleged in the charges. The judge also said he found probable cause for the prosecution to charge Maurizio but felt they did not provide evidence that he was a danger. He also said that ‘drug dealers are out on the streets while they wait trial too.”
The government filed an appeal against the judges ruling which will keep Maurizio in jail at least a few more weeks.
"He's a strong man of faith that keeps him going I think today's news will perk him a little bit for a lack of better term," said Passarello.
A trial date has been tentatively set for January 2015.