The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today’s winner is Rodney Rodis. He gets the award for the following.

RICHMOND, Va. — A retired Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his parishioners, money he used in part to support his secret family.

Rodney Rodis, 51, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in October in the theft of more than $600,000 in donations from St. Jude Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Louisa County between 2002 and 2006.

U.S. District Judge Richard Williams on Thursday issued the maximum punishment under federal sentencing guidelines and gave Rodis credit for time already served.

The judge also ordered Rodis to repay the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond more than $591,000 and required the Filipino native to meet with federal immigration officials for possible deportation after his prison term ends.

Before Williams handed down the sentence, Rodis recited a litany of apologies to his victims, including the Catholic church, his family and society in general.

“I hope that one day I’ll be able to rectify my mistakes,” he said.

Authorities said Rodis set up bank accounts and a post office box where he directed parishioners to send contributions. Rodis then transferred the money to his personal account, using it to support his family — a wife and three children, whom he concealed from parishioners. He also wired money overseas to relatives who used it to buy real estate.

Robert J. Wagner, an attorney representing Rodis, asked for leniency because of his client’s poor health, which includes prostate cancer and heart problems.

After the hearing, the priest who succeeded Rodis after his 2006 retirement said he wasn’t convinced of the sincerity of his predecessor’s apologies.

“He did this for five years, systematically, and in a very organized way,” the Rev. Michael Duffy said. “Restitution is what we’re after.”

My question- Where was the oversight of Fr. Rodis? Either from the pastor of the churches he worked at or from the diocese. Somebody where this priest was working didn’t do their job.

There have been several avoidable Catholic Church money scandals in my part of Florida in the last few years. Two former priests here in Palm Beach County are awaiting trial on theft charges. The total amount of money they are accused of stealing- over 8 million dollars. The priests managed to evade the required audits they were supposed to have done. In another case, Parishioners tried alerting the diocese about the possible financial impropriety of a priest in nearby Stuart Florida. The bishop’s office did nothing then either till police got involved a year later. Millions of dollars of church money were taken in those two cases. The diocese too often prefers to stick its head in the sand rather than face the possibility of potential trouble. Then they come out every year begging for money. Because of the avoidable failures of the Diocese to properly manage its money and other reasons, I have never given a dime to the annual bishop’s appeal and never will. The diocese was going to cut off my wife’s insurance while she lay in the hospital pregnant with our son Daniel till I raised a huge stink. That alone makes me steadfast in never giving the Diocese a single dime. The church values the dollar over two human lives, and then squanders the money.

For those of you who don’t know, the proceeds of the first weekend collection at a Catholic church go directly to that church for its operating expenses. Only certain specified second collections go to the Diocese rather the local church.

My wife notes also that Filipino priests end up in the United States only after getting in trouble back home. A diocese in the Philippines most likely had a part in shipping off Rodis to unsuspecting parishioners here in the United States.

Rodney Rodis, will have to account for what he did with God’s money one day, in the meantime I name him today’s Knucklehead of the Day.

Disclosure- My wife works for the Diocese of Palm Beach.

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