Ex-Priest Accused of Stalking

By Maeleeke J. Lavan
Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, NY)
September 14, 2002

WAPPINGERS FALLS -- A member of the Carmelite Fathers order was arrested and charged with a hate crime for allegedly stalking and harassing a Wappinger man and his family, state police at Wappinger said.

James T. Tamburrino, 35, of Middletown, allegedly made harassing phone calls and sent mail to the victim's residence -- including photographs that were both alarming and annoying, the complaint said.

Tamburrino was arrested about 9 p.m. Thursday and charged with multiple counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and third-degree stalking of the man, whom he met in a New York City night club several months ago.

The charges are felonies because the nature of the alleged harassment by Tamburrino included speculation about the victim's sexual orientation.

Removed from ministry

Father Michael Driscoll, provincial of the New York Carmelites, said he hadn't heard of the newest charges against Tamburrino until Friday afternoon, but said he personally removed Tamburrino from the ministry in June 2001 because of other allegations against him.

"He had just been living in the community until he decided to go on his own and pursue a secular job," said Driscoll, who was contacted by telephone in Trinidad. "For the last 16 months he has not been functioning as a priest."

The complaint papers filed in Wappinger town court indicate the alleged harassment began Aug. 16 and continued until Sept. 12.

Police obtained a search warrant for Tamburrino's home, where they confiscated computers, computer related equipment and digital photographs.

State police Investigator Brian Hoff said police will continue the investigation after the equipment is examined by the department's Computer Crime Unit in Albany.

"We deal with this type of case all the time," he said, "but not with a priest."

The Dutchess County District Attorney's Office is in the beginning stages of its investigation.

"Right now we're receiving the case, and as we do in all cases such as this one, we're reaching out for the victim's input and will evaluate the case based on law and facts and make a determination based on that," senior assistant district attorney Frank Petramale said.

Tamburrino was arraign-ed in Town of Wappinger court and remanded to the Dutchess County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond and is scheduled to return to court at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

If convicted, Tamburrino faces a maximum penalty of 1 1/3 to four years in state prison.


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