Friday, October 07, 2005
Priest, suspected in theft, is ousted
Philadeophia - An Atlantic County priest has been removed from his post after police named him as their primary suspect in the theft of about $7,000 from a rectory safe, church officials said.
The Rev. Ronald S. Falotico, 62, had been pastor of Queen of Angels in Buena Borough's Landisville section since December. He previously led St. Peter's Church in Pleasantville, said Andrew Walton, spokesman for the Diocese of Camden.
Falotico called police Sept. 25 to report a burglary and the theft of about $7,000 that had been collected during the Sunday offerings, Buena Police Chief Douglas Adams said.
"After a couple of days of investigation, we had a handful of suspects that we narrowed down," Adams said. "Then Falotico became the main suspect. When the diocese found out, they swooped down and relieved him of his duties."
In a conversation with church officials, Falotico "admitted to some kind of sickness or illness," Adams said. He said Falotico had not been charged with any crime.
Church officials sent Falotico to a church facility in Maryland for treatment and counseling, and he will remain there pending the outcome of the police investigation, Walton said.
The $7,000 has not been recovered, Adams said.
Adams said the investigation had slowed since Falotico's removal to Maryland. "We have not finished our conversation with him," Adams said. "We need to do that."
Falotico will remain available for police questioning, Walton said.
A letter from Bishop Joseph Galante, read during Sunday services, informed Queen of Angels parishioners of Falotico's removal. Galante wrote that he would pray for Falotico, the parish and the investigators, Walton said.
The diocese named Falotico to lead Queen of Angels in a routine reassignment. Priests are commonly reassigned after five-year stints, Walton said.
"They needed someone in Landisville who could speak Spanish," Walton said. Falotico, who was born in Camden, is multilingual.
Until July 2001, Queen of Angels was two churches: Our Lady of Victories in Landisville and St. Michael's in Minotola.
See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.
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