Sunday, January 18, 2009
Defense Strategy Split In Case Of Florida Priest Pair Accused Of Embezzling $8.6 Million From Parish
Two Delray Beach, Florida priests accused of embezzling some $8.6 Million from their parish appear to be taking different defense strategies in their cases, according to reports. The Rev. John Skehan, 81, pictured on the right, is reportedly seeking a plea agreement on his charge of grand theft, prior to his trial. Meanwhile, the Rev. Francis Guinan, 66, pictured on the left, will be proceeding to trial and prove his innocence, according to his attorney. The two priests were arrested in 2006, first Skehan and then later Guinan upon further investigation, both accused of robbing the offertory money from St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, in Delray Beach. Investigators say the two priests spent the money on "lavish trips, gambling and girlfriends." Skehan started pilfering the collections 42 years ago, according to investigators. The scheme, described as the biggest embezzlement in the US Catholic Church history, was uncovered in 2005 when church auditors forced Guinan, who replaced Skehan in 2003 when he retired, to comply with an audit.