Former St. Peter’s Pastor Admits to Stealing $1.9m
By Lynn Hulsey
Dayton Daily News
March 10, 2016
Father Simone, the former St. Peter’s pastor, did plead guilty to one count of aggravated theft in an agreement with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office that was accepted by the court.
According to the agreement, Simone agreed to a five-year prison sentence, waive all appeal rights, repay $1.9 million he admitted stealing and assist in the prosecution of anyone else involved.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 22. He is free on bond until then.
While the criminal charge reads “theft of over $1.5 million,” the investigation by Huber Heights police and county Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.’s office found that Simone stole approximately $1.92 million.
So, the court has ordered him to repay $1.9 million to St. Peter’s Catholic Church. However, according to Heck’s office, “it appears the money has been spent by the defendant and there are now liens and mortgages on the real estate” on more than 30 rental properties Simone owned.
Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, said an audit is continuing on accounts going back 20 years and the amount of the theft may exceed $1.9 million. The loss to the parish will be limited to its $30,000 insurance deductible and any amount that exceeds the insurance limit of $3 million, he said.
“It is unfortunate that someone who had devoted their lifetime to the church and to helping others succumbed to greed and ended up stealing from the very people he ministered to,” Heck said in a written statement. “However, no one is above the law, and this defendant will be held accountable for his actions.”
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, in a prepared statement, said, “Service to the people of God as a pastor is a sacred trust. Father Simone’s violation of that trust has saddened and deeply disappointed me.”
UPDATE @ 2:02 p.m. (March 10): A news release from Father Earl Simone’s attorney, David P. Williamson, states Simone is entering a guilty plea today:
“By entering his guilty plea today, Fr. Simone has accepted responsibility for his actions. Today marks the end of an almost year-long process during which we have cooperated with the Prosecuting Attorney’s investigation. As the pre-sentence process plays itself out, we will have more to say at a later date, and ask that the confidentiality of that process be respected.”
FIRST REPORT (March 9)
Former St. Peter’s Catholic Church pastor, Father Earl Simone, is expected to make a plea soon in the theft of $1.5 million from the church, his attorney David P. Williamson confirmed exclusively to this news outlet.
Simone is to appear in court at 2 p.m. Thursday.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday issued a bill of information for aggravated theft, a first degree felony, stating that Simone took the money from the Huber Heights church between Jan. 1, 2008 and March 31, 2015.
“I will tell you that once the plea is made my statement will be the same I’m going to make right now. We’re not going to make a statement until later after the proceedings play themselves out,” Davidson said. “Assuming there is a plea there will be a pre-sentence phase. Once we get to the point of sentencing that’s the point in time we will make a statement.”
Simone resigned last April amid a police investigation.
A Dayton Daily News investigation found he had accumulated huge debts from unpaid taxes and court judgments on property he owned and businesses he operated during his 23 years as pastor of the church.