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Former Vatican Aide Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case September 06, 2002

NEW YORK, Sep 6, 02 ( -- A retired Vatican official has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in a Connecticut court, and now faces sentencing in connection with the vast insurance frauds run by the shady international financier Martin Frankel.

Msgr. Emilio Colagiovanni, a canon lawyer who served on Vatican tribunals, faces sentencing in December after admitting to his role in a financial scheme through which Frankel milked millions of dollars from American insurance firms. Msgr. Colagiovanni, could face up to five years in American prisons.

Msgr. Colagiovanni admitted that he had agreed to let Frankel launder a sum of $50 million through the Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation, a small foundation through which the cleric published a canon-law journal. In exchange, Frankel agreed to donate $40,000 tot he foundation. That maneuver was instrumental in Frankel's efforts to convince American insurance executives that he enjoyed the financial backing of substantial Vatican investors.

Frankel, whose schemes collapsed after he had driven several insurance firms into financial disaster, eventually fled the US and was captured, after a long international search, in Italy. He returned to face a variety of criminal charges, and entered his own guilty plea in May.

Msgr. Colagiovanni, who is an Italian citizen, was arrested in August 2001 while he was visiting relatives in Ohio.