HUBER HEIGHTS — Father Earl Simone, the former priest at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Huber Heights, will serve five years in prison for stealing over $1.9 million from the church.
Simone, 75, entered a guilty plea in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court that includes the requirement to pay $1.9 million in restitution.
A press release from the Montgomery County Prosecutor says most of the money has been spent in updating rental properties Simone owned.
Montgomery County Prosecutors filed a bill of information with Judge Dennis J. Langer on Wednesday accusing Simone of stealing the funds between Jan. 1, 2008 and March 31, 2015. According to prosecutors, Simone transferred funds from various church accounts to his own accounts as well as paid personal expenses from the church funds.
“It is unfortunate that someone who had devoted their lifetime to the Church and to helping others succumbed to greed and ended up stealing from the very people he ministered to,” said Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr. “However, no one is above the law, and this defendant will be held accountable for his actions.”
Simone resigned in April 2015 citing “age, health, and personal concerns” according to the letter he wrote to parishioners. He was granted approval for a medical retirement by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.
The retirement was approved even as the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was investigating an ethics complaint against Simone received February 11, 2015 and had concluded “there was substance to the report,” according to a press release.
Simone owns several properties in a real estate company, Flynn Realty. According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, Simone is the sole incorporator of Flynn Realty.
A search of the Montgomery County Auditor’s real estate database reveals Flynn Realty owns 31 properties in the county, many of which were originally bought in Earl Simone’s name but then transferred to Flynn Realty. Prosecutors say that the properties were being maintained and updated with the stolen funds.
Montgomery County Court records show that Simone and/or Flynn Realty have multiple judgments against them as well as multiple pending foreclosure proceedings.
Simone will be formally sentenced on April 22 at 1:30 p.m.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.