Child Porn Charges for Poker-playing Priest
By Alex N. Gecan
Asbury Park Press
October 26, 2016
|Father Kevin A. Gugliotta was arrested in Toms river on a Pennsylvania warrant outlining 40 charges related to child pornography.|
TOMS RIVER - A fugitive Catholic priest and nationally ranked poker player wanted on dozens of child-pornography-related charges in Pennsylvania is now in the Ocean County jail after being arrested by township police.
Officials with the Archdiocese of Newark Wednesday confirmed that the priest, Kevin A. Gugliotta, 54, of Totowa, had been removed from his ministry at Holy Spirit Church in Union.
A criminal docket from a Wayne County, Pennsylvania, magisterial court listed 20 allegations against Gugliotta of possessing or viewing child pornography and 20 more of disseminating photographs or video of child sex acts. The date of all 40 alleged offenses is July 9 of this year, according to court records.
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Prosecutors in Wayne County said that Gugliotta was awaiting extradition out of New Jersey.
The investigation began on Aug. 9, when a Monroe County, Pennsylvania detective received a report that, one month earlier, "someone uploaded an image of child pornography to a chat room on the internet" from Gugliotta's internet protocol (IP) address, according to a statement from Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards' office. "Several other reports were received that numerous other images of child pornography were being uploaded from that same IP address."
On Sept. 29, Detectives from Wayne and Monroe counties joined Lehigh Township, Pennsylvania police officers servicing a search warrant at a home Gugliotta kept on Third Street in the village of Gouldsboro within Lehigh, according to Edwards, finding neither Gugliotta nor the offending computer.
"A neighbor told the officers that Gugliotta was a priest that resides in New Jersey and that he only stays at the Wayne County residence a few times a week," Edwards wrote.
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Later that day, detectives figured out that Gugliotta worked as a priest at Holy Spirit and gave him a call, but he "stated that he was unable to come back to Pennsylvania until the following Monday because those were his scheduled days off. He described the Wayne County residence as his 'day off place' where he goes on his time off," according to Edwards.
Since Gugliotta would not come to their mountain, Wayne County detectives went to Union and interviewed the priest along with detectives from the Union County Prosecutor's Office, Edwards said.
Edwards approved criminal charges on Oct. 20 and Magisterial District Judge Bonnie Carney signed off on an arrest warrant the same day, according to the announcement. Later that night, Toms River police caught up with Gugliotta at a township home.
Toms River Police Department Public Affairs Officer Ralph Stocco said that Gugliotta is not facing any local charges, other than being a fugitive from justice.
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"We have removed Gugliotta from ministry the day we found out about the expected charges earlier this month," Jim Goodness, a communications director for the Archdiocese, said Wednesday.
The Archdiocese released a more detailed statement later in the day, explaining that Gugliotta kept a vacation home in Pennsylvania and that the charges indicated he had used his personal laptop. "There are are no allegations that he may have engaged in similar activities in New Jersey," Goodness wrote.
"The Archdiocese has maintained regular contact with the authoriites in Pennsylvania while this matter has developed, but deferred making any premature statement about Father Gugliotta so as not to affect or interfere in any way with the actions of law enforcement," Goodness continued.
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According to online poker database The Hendon Mob, Gugliotta has also won hundreds of thousands of dollars playing poker over the last several years.
Gugliotta is ranked 4,187th on the United States All Time Money List and 193rd on the state's All Time Money List, according to the same database.
According to federal bankruptcy court records, Gugliotta also filed for chapter-seven bankruptcy in 2009.
Administrators at Holy Spirit Church were not available for comment Tuesday.
Gugliotta was a recent transfer to Holy Spirit. His LinkedIn page indicates he worked at Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mahwah for 16 months, ending in August of this year. Before working at Immaculate Conception he studied for a doctorate degree in education at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
Before grad school, Gugliotta served eight years at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Scotch Plains, according to fliers from that parish.
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According to Gugliotta's docket sheet, attorney James Alan Swetz of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania firm Cramer Swetz McManus Jordan is representing Gugliotta. Swetz was not available Tuesday and has not yet returned messages requesting comment.
A criminal complaint was filed against Gugliotta Oct. 20, the day before Toms River police arrested him. The circumstances of his arrest were not available from police Wednesday.
"It is important to remember that the American system of justice assumes the presumption of innocence of the accused. This is a serious and difficult matter that must proceed, as required, through the court process of the state of Pennsylvania," Goodness said. "As a result, the Archdiocese is not in a position to discuss the details of Father Gugliotta's situation at this time."