money trails

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 29, 2006

In New Jersey there are rumors that Newark's Archbishop John Myers is the leading candidate to head the Detroit archdiocese, which traditionally brings a red hat. The archbishop's spokesman says that the rumors are coming from Detroit, but what we hear comes from Newark, and the chatty Rocco traces the story back to Archbishop Myers himself. Interesting.

Now, while contemplating that, consider:

Recently I wondered aloud whether last year's abrupt resignation of Cleveland's Bishop Pilla might be connected to this year's indictment of the top financial officer in the Cleveland diocese. That indictment, you'll recall, alleges a fraudulent scheme involving over $700,000, and now there are claims that the bishop knew about the scheme. The sum involved here is $784,000.

In Newark, last year, the office of Catholic Charities was charged with a Medicaid-reimbursement fraud that involved $40 million.

Not only did the agency's former chief financial officer plead guilty last month to fraud, but Catholic Charities now needs to repay the government tens of millions of dollars it received in those years, plus interest.

So under the leadership of Archbishop Myers, the Newark archdiocese-- which has had to close down parishes and schools to help make ends meet-- is gradually paying back $40 million to Uncle Sam.

There is, of course, no evidence at all that Archbishop Myers was aware of the Medicaid fraud. But if Catholic Charities had pulled in an undeserved $40 million-- not an insignificant sum on any archdiocesan balance sheet-- and the head of the archdiocese didn't recognize a problem, then that's a problem.

If an alleged $784,000 scam is enough to push a bishop into retirement, you'd have to think that a confessed $40 million scam would at least be enough to keep an ambitious prelate in New Jersey.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 31, 2006 2:40 PM ET USA

    The Archbishop's defenders don't deny that $40 Million was defrauded and is being repaid, and churches and schools are closed as a result. This transpired at the very time Abp. John J Myers bought a country estate and installed a new pool for his personal enjoyment. Rocco's credibility vs. an American Archbishop? No question; I believe Rocco!

  • Posted by: wormwood - Aug. 31, 2006 1:37 PM ET USA

    In Newark, the troubles resulted not from outright fraud, but from a difference of interpretation of an ambiguity in a law; the court eventually found for the insurerer and against Catholic Charities. Perhaps a more careful investigation into the facts are called for!

  • Posted by: - Aug. 30, 2006 9:17 PM ET USA

    Personally, I find it "interesting" that you put Rocco's credibility in the same balance with that of an Archbishop. Also, it is very "interesting" that I have nowhere found either in these columns or their responses any suggestion that we pray and fast for the bishops and priests of the Church. Irony, innuendo, satire- since when do these comprise practically the entire armentarium of any apostle? So this column is not an apostolate, but rather an ongoing critique of apostles. Interesting

  • Posted by: - Aug. 30, 2006 10:04 AM ET USA

    Wonder if the Vatican Bank laundered the $40 million?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2006 6:19 PM ET USA

    After hearing a friend respond to my earlier post, I thought it would be best to clarify that I'm neither saying that it's not a problem that the fraud wasn't caught earlier, nor offering a substantive defence of Myers. I am just pointing out that we ought not to judge the bishops of Newark until we fill in the gaps in this story. Charles and Fatimabeliever are asking the right sort of questions, I believe.

  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Aug. 29, 2006 5:25 PM ET USA

    Why didn't an auditor catch this before it got out of hand? Are the tax laws and the medicare laws that hard to understand, do they change each year and if they do isn't there government agencies you can call for help, maybe all the archdioceses need to exchange accountants every year (or 6 months?) to make sure this doesn't happened again. Or maybe they should have auditors check the books every 6 months??

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2006 2:12 PM ET USA

    Certainly any prelate that can oversee a $40 million windfall, can easily oversee a $40 million debt to finance the JPII Cultural Center in an Archdiocese that readily closes/consolidates parishes as often as Newark does!

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2006 1:45 PM ET USA

    Be fair! (1) The Medicaid fraud was between 1999 and 2003. Myers took over the diocese in Oct 2001, so he would not have noticed any change "under his leadership". Nor would McCarrick since: (2)contra Diogenes, it was not obvious that the $40 mil which came in over those years was "undeserved." It took the gov't four years to detect it. Except to those involved in the fraud, the money looked like it was coming in from real Medicaid reimbursements and was being spent to provide needed services.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2006 12:52 PM ET USA

    Yeah, and I wouldn't take Rocco's word to the bank, either.

  • Posted by: Charles134 - Aug. 29, 2006 12:46 PM ET USA

    Why does the Diocese have to pay the money? (I couldn't follow the link.)

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Aug. 29, 2006 12:20 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, once again you make some truly excellent points. I mean, if CC of Newark pulled in nearly $40million, wouldn't someone in the archdiocese notice such a windfall? Also, has anyone bothered to check whether Myers is really a Red Wings, Lions and Tigers fan?