Friday, October 28, 2005
Priest admits embezzling $360,000
Randolph, New Jersey - The former pastor of Resurrection Church in Randolph admitted today to stealing $360,000 from the Roman Catholic parish between 1996 and 2001.
Father William M. Naughton, 61, of Chester, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court, Morristown, to one count of theft by deception from the church. He already has paid back close to $200,000, and hopes to repay the rest by the time he is sentenced on Dec. 16, defense lawyer Peter N. Gilbreth said.
The plea arrangement Naughton struck with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office calls only for restitution. The length of any jail time or probation he receives at sentencing is being left to the discretion of Judge Joseph A. Falcone.
Naughton is not expected to receive a state prison term, but he could be sent to the Morris County jail for up to 364 days.
Naughton, who was ordered by the Diocese of Paterson to step down as the church pastor in 2001, told the judge today that he set up a charity account in the church's name and used its proceeds for his own benefit, withdrawing $360,000 over more than five years. Naughton did not disclose to the judge how he spent the money but, outside court, his attorney said a major portion was spent to help a man named Harold Reid, with whom Naughton decades ago had a brief sexual relationship. The pair remained friends over the years, and Naughton repeatedly assisted Reid when he asked for help, Gilbreth said.
See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.
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