community service

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 05, 2007

Father Michael Jude Fay, the Connecticut priest who pinched $1.3 million from his wealthy parish, is going to jail.

When Fay reported that he is suffering from cancer, Federal Judge Janet Bond Arterton was properly sympathetic. But she was apparently not impressed by his argument that he should avoid jail time because he "spent 28 years performing good works." Oh, and he "has repaid nearly $280,000."

Let's see. Suppose I tell you that I need $1.3 million, and I promise to give back $280,000. Do we have a deal? If so, please give me a call ASAP.

As for the "28 years performing good works," that might have been the wrong argument to raise in court. The evidence of good works is not altogether compelling-- especially when weighed against the devastation he inflicted on the parish, the diocese, and the faith. Fay was hoping to be assigned to community service, but his is a style of "service" that a community cannot afford.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 07, 2007 1:30 PM ET USA

    Is it just me but shouldn't having a pastor driving a Jaguar throw up a whole pile of flags to somebody in the diocese? Even if the priest has a close relative with the last name of Rockefeller or Gates, the aesthetics of a priest driving a flashy car like that does not provide a good example. Maybe Fay missed his real calling as a televangalist.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 05, 2007 1:35 PM ET USA

    Why was his diocese so irresponsible in allowing this to go unnoticed for years? That is criminal negligence from the viewpoint of those for whom the money was held in trust (the poor sap parishioners). In effect, the parish and diocese has a fiduciary responsibility that has been ignored. In the real world such negligence would be punished financially AND criminally. And who takes the fall? Just the embezzler and the whistle blower.... but the big guys walk away... sound familiar?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 05, 2007 11:31 AM ET USA

    Didn't his associate pastor also leave the priesthood after being admonished for hiring a private investigator when the diocese would not respond to the parish council? If so, then this associate pastor is the true hero.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 05, 2007 10:30 AM ET USA

    As a former judge I can attest to the therapeutic value of jail and prison in appropriate cases. Embezzlers often plead for mercy, pointing to their blameless prior lives. But when you are dealing with this much money, incarceration is called for.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 05, 2007 10:17 AM ET USA

    He can continue doing community service by making license plates.