Monday, July 23, 2012

Former Pastor of Greenwich Church Sentenced to Federal Prison for Obstructing Federal Investigation

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Michael Moynihan, 59, a former pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Greenwich, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to five months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for obstructing a federal investigation concerning his use of more than $300,000 in church funds. Moynihan also was ordered to perform 120 hours of community service and to pay $409,430 in restitution.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Moynihan was employed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport from 1993 to 2007 and, during that time, he served as the pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Greenwich. As pastor, Moynihan had responsibilities that included ensuring that money provided to St. Michael by parishioners be maintained for the benefit of the Parish and its parishioners and informing the Parish Finance Council of the existence of all bank accounts used to deposit monies provided to St. Michael.

When Moynihan began serving as the pastor of St. Michael, the Parish had maintained bank accounts, including a Building Fund account that had been established by his predecessor and was known to the Parish Council. In 2002, the Bridgeport Diocese directed each Parish to maintain only one operating bank account and to list this operating account on the general ledger of each Parish. Despite this directive, the Parish continued to use the Building Fund account without it being listed on the Parish general ledger.

In February 2004, Moynihan opened a bank account at Greenwich Bank and Trust (GB&T) in the name of St. Michael’s Church that also was not listed on the Parish general ledger.

In approximately July 2006, after being advised that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had requested information from the Diocese as part of a criminal investigation, Moynihan did not disclose to representatives of the Diocese the existence of the Building Fund account or the GB&T account. A review of these two accounts revealed that, from 2002 to 2006, more than $2 million provided to the St. Michael Parish was deposited into these accounts. While the majority of these funds were used for Parish-related expenses, approximately $300,000 of these funds were used to pay Moynihan’s credit card bills. Moynihan acknowledged these accounts only when confronted by the Diocese and questioned by the Diocese about why he used funds in those accounts for personal use.

In an effort to explain how he expended the funds from the undisclosed accounts and to demonstrate that funds from the accounts were used for Parish-related purposes, Moynihan provided false and misleading information to accountants retained by the Diocese. Specifically, Moynihan provided accountants with letters purportedly signed by two persons who indicated that they each had received funds from Moynihan.

Knowing that a federal grand jury was investigating whether he used Parish funds for his personal benefit, Moynihan met with FBI special agents to provide information about how the funds in the undisclosed accounts were expended. During the course of an interview in December 2010, Moynihan indicated to FBI agents that he had not forged a signature on a letter, although he knew that he had signed another person’s signature without authority to do so.

Judge Burns ordered Moynihan to pay $409,430 to the Diocese of Bridgeport for expenses the Diocese incurred as a result of Moynihan’s obstructive conduct.

On December 8, 2011, Moynihan pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. He has been ordered to report to prison on September 3, 2012.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport and its legal counsel. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.

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