leifertlaw March 30, 2009 Theft
A Palm Beach County Circuit Judge has sentenced an 81-year-old pastor at Delray Beach’s St. Vincente Ferrer to 14 months in prison, followed by seven years probation. Father John Skehan pleaded guilty to grand theft over $100,000 and showed remorse for stealing from his congregation. Another priest, Father Francis Guinan, already stood trial for grand theft and was convicted of a lesser charge.
Although Florida state’s minimum sentencing guidelines require 20 months of jail time, the judge reduced the sentence because of Skehan’s age, his admission of guilt, and the fact that he has made over $700,000 in restitution. The Diocese of Palm Beach and members of the church pleaded on Skehan’s behalf, but the judge refused to drop the jail time, calling Skehan’s crime “pure greed unmasked.”
Now Skehan must surrender himself to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on or before May 1. His defense attorney said he was disappointed by the sentencing but not surprised because of the intense media scrutiny the trial has attracted.
Judge orders one Delray Beach priest to prison, calls theft ‘greed unmasked;’ second priest’s sentencing today, Palm Beach Post, March 24, 2009
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