FBI Takes Over Parish Finances Investigation - Southern Maryland Headline News

FBI Takes Over Parish Finances Investigation

By Guy Leonard, guyleonard [at] countytimes.net

HOLLYWOOD, Md.—State’s Attorney for St. Mary's County Richard Fritz confirmed on Aug. 13 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has taken the lead in investigating alleged financial irregularities at St. Francis Xavier parish in Newtowne Neck that has called into question the actions of former parish priest Father John Mattingly.

“They have officially taken the case,” Fritz told The County Times. “One of the reasons it was referred to the FBI is that they have the ability to engage their forensic auditors in the case.

“I’m sure they’ll do a very intensive investigation.”

Mattingly retired several years ago after serving there for nearly 20 years. When The County Times broke the story back in March a representative from the archdiocese confirmed that the matter was first investigated by ecclesiastic officials and then handed over to local authorities for further investigation after the church’s own lengthy auditing process using outside accountants.

The archdiocese’s investigation “discovered financial irregularities” an archdiocese spokesperson said earlier this year citing “possible improper handling of parishoners’ contributions by Fr. John Mattingly.”

Fritz reiterated that no charges have been filed against Mattingly.

“Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

Diocesan officials said that when the confronted Mattingly about the financial irregularities he could not provide adequate answers as to where the money went or for what purpose it was used.

Parishioners are still looking for answers to what has happened at their parish. They were informed of the irregularities by church officials back in February and many were stunned.

Lynn Delahay, who sits on the parish council, said the money that went missing was to be used to restore an old manor house behind the actual church building which sits amid the relatively new Newtowne Neck State Park and is widely regarded as one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the nation.

“The missing money is our seed money,” Delahay said. “This was a manor house restoration fund which was accumulated by parishioners gifts from deceased loved ones.”

A source close to the church, speaking on condition of anonymity back in March, said that the finances there were actually near the level of insolvency despite the fact of parishioner contributions.

Parishioners, though, the source said, believed that the church was in good financial shape and were never told about the dire conditions before Mattingly’s retirement in 2010.

After the retirement of Mattingly, however, the source said that income to the church improved quickly to the point that the church could pay its bills and set aside money for future endeavors.

Calls to Mattingly were not returned as of press time.

For more local news stories, read the County Times online at ct.somd.com

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