Priest Apologizes for Stealing $400,000 from Church - Southern Maryland Headline News

Priest Apologizes for Stealing $400,000 from Church

Judge doesn't buy his confessed contrition


HOLLYWOOD, Md. (August 10, 2017)—John S. Mattingly, the fallen priest who pleaded guilty to stealing nearly a half-million dollars from the congregation at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Newtowne Neck, told the parishioners he had betrayed that he was sorry for what he had done, but offered no explanation as to why he did it.

Speaking at his sentencing hearing Monday at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Mattingly, 71, said he wanted to find a way to make amends with the entire parish he had served before retiring in 2010, leaving one of the oldest parishes dating back to the colonial founding of Maryland almost insolvent.

"I fully acknowledge what I did was terribly wrong," Mattingly said. "My conduct haunts me.

"I'm terribly sorry."

Mattingly said he wanted to petition the Archdiocese to allow him to say one last mass at the church before he dies.

Judge Deborah Chasanow handed down a sentence of 18 months home detention, along with three years supervised release.

Both sides stipulated to one day of incarceration already served when Mattingly was arrested by federal authorities last year.

Chasanow said Mattingly's motives for stealing the $400,000 from his parishioners from between 2006 and 2010 and funneling the money into a retirement fund and various other accounts, while telling his congregation it was desperately needed for things such as church repairs, was somewhat baffling.

But she was sure that he was not bothered by what he was doing before he got caught.

"You said you've been haunted by this for five years, when this had been going on long before that," Chasanow said. "That tells me you were not concerned about what you were doing when [the theft and bank fraud] was happening."

She noted Mattingly's signing over $400,000 by check last week to the court as restitution to the parish he had once served faithfully, which showed that he had not actually spent the money he had stolen.

Chasanow said had his crimes gone unnoticed, it was uncertain what would have happened to the embezzled funds.

"His motivations for this conduct are not entirely clear to me," Chasanow said. "He was clearly doing this to serve his own psychic benefit."

One church member, writing in a letter to the court, was not so sure, noting that Mattingly had made social media posts during the investigation into church finances about his many visits to music performances in D.C. as well as apparently flaunting what she called an $80,000 Lexus, a condominium on the Eastern Shore and a penchant for day trading in the markets.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Forman told the court the investigation into Mattingly's scheme turned up checks written by parishioners for various amounts with messages written on them stating the money was for charitable donations to the church or for maintenance of the aging chapel.

But those notes were a ruse, Forman said, since Mattingly had those monies diverted directly into accounts he controlled.

Forman said when he was first presented the case from State's Attorney Richard Fritz's office back in 2014 that he was incredulous of any criminal wrongdoing.

"We thought that there must be an account we're missing," Forman said. "But… we never saw any money coming back to St. Francis Xavier Church."

David Chapman, Mattingly's attorney, told the court that Mattingly's health, both physically and mentally, was precarious and that his illegal activities took place when Mattingly was "heavily medicated for his medical conditions and his psychological conditions."

"He has suffered tremendously, arguably by his own hand, but he has suffered just the same," Chapman said. "He is disgraced, there is no doubt about it."

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