RETIRED Priest Pleads Guilty in Dating Site Scam Targeting Women

By Scott O'Connell
Telegram & Gazette
November 17, 2016

WORCESTER A retired Catholic priest pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a money laundering charge stemming from his involvement in an overseas scheme that allegedly defrauded women seeking companionship online.

The Rev. Thomas B. Fleming originally pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of money laundering included in an indictment against him last year. He signed a plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors on Monday, he told U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman at his plea change hearing in U.S. District Court Wednesday.

According to an online record of the plea agreement, the recommendation is for the Rev. Fleming to be incarcerated for a period of time served, and pay $90,105 in restitution to five victims. The Rev. Fleming was held in custody for roughly three weeks following his arrest in Florida last July.

Rev. Fleming, 67, of Worcester, could have faced up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for each of the counts against him; per his plea agreement, he only pleaded guilty to the first count. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney David G. Tobin, Rev. Fleming helped orchestrate an online dating scheme for a person who identified himself to Rev. Fleming as a serviceman overseas. U.S. investigators believe that person was using a false identity, and was actually operating a scam in Nigeria.








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