Priest Gets Prison for $500g Theft from Archdiocese
Delco Daily Times
January 3, 2018
The suspended rector at the Villa St. Joseph retirement home in Darby Borough, who in May pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud for diverting more than $500,000 intended for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to his personal account, was back in federal court Wednesday for sentencing.
The Rev. Msgr. William A. Dombrow, 78, was sentenced to serve eight months in jail on each of the four counts to run concurrently, followed by three years supervised release on each of the four counts, also to run concurrently but consecutive to incarceration, defense attorney Steven Pacillio said.
The sentencing proceeding before U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert lasted nearly three hours. Pacillio said the judge allowed his client, who remains in “good standing” with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and continues to reside at Villa St. Joseph, to self-surrender on Feb. 20.
Pacillio described Dombrow as totally accepting of his responsibility, since day one.
“He has a strong faith and he knows his fate is ultimately in God’s hands,” Pacillio said. “He’s never expressed even once any minimization or any attempt at ducking responsibility.”
Dombrow was on administrative leave when he was arrested in April for stealing $535,258 between December 2007 and May 2016. He was specifically charged with four separate instances of illegal transfers between 2013 and 2016 for sums ranging between $10,000 and $25,000.
The villa provides licensed nursing care and housing for retired and infirm priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which had contracted with Catholic Human Services to provide management and accounting services at the home, according to a criminal information document filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In his capacity as rector, Dombrow had sole access to a Sharon Savings Bank account connected to the villa, which is funded primarily by proceeds from estates and life insurance policies, the information states.
Dombrow, who took over as rector in 2005 and also lived at the villa, reportedly used the funds to furnish a lavish lifestyle including concerts, fancy dinners and a tab at Harrah’s casino in Chester, according to previously published reports. An investigation was launched after Sharon Savings Bank flagged account activity at Harrah’s and notified the archdiocese.
“Upon review of information supplied by the bank, this account was immediately frozen at the request of the Archdiocese,” archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin stated back in May. “At that time, the matter was referred to law enforcement by the archdiocese and Msgr. William Dombrow’s priestly faculties, as well as his administrative responsibilities, were restricted. He had not been permitted to handle any financial matters for the Villa since that time. Throughout the investigation, the archdiocese has cooperated fully with law enforcement.”
Dombrow, who was responsible for providing his own legal counsel, intended to plead guilty at the first opportunity he was presented, Pacillio said after his client’s guilty plea in May.
“Today is the first time the monsignor was able to take a step in the court system toward reconciliation,” Pacillio said at that time. “It’s been weighing heavily on his shoulders for a long time … He’s working to build a reconciliation with the church and with any of the persons he may have offended with his behavior.”
According to Pacillio, a limited amount of the stolen funds did go to things like dinners, but an accounting of the funds indicated about $150,000 came from ATM withdrawals either at or near casinos.
Back in May, Pacillio said Dombrow was attending Gambling Anonymous meetings, which Pappert made a condition of his bail, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He said Dombrow received treatment for his alcoholism in the early 1980s, and has been sober for 32 years.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella.