Priest vacationed using parish funds

by Tom Gallagher

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Monsignor Patrick Brown, longtime pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic church in Long Hill, N.J., admitted in federal court Wednesday that he stole nearly $64,000 from the church to buy relatives' gifts, pay credit card bills and fund trips to Ireland, Hawaii and Colorado.

Brown, a 59-year-old Stirling resident who also maintains a residence in Budd Lake, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to the criminal charge of tax evasion.

He acknowledged $63,706 in thefts between 2004 and June 2009, and specifically admitted that for the year 2005 alone he misreported his income as only a $30,930 salary from the church, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Upon entering his plea, Brown resigned as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, a parish of 1,385 families that he had served since July 1992. Attorney Kenneth Mullaney, counsel for the Diocese of Paterson, said that Brown will temporarily be reassigned to a parish in Paterson, though not as pastor. He will serve the poor and have no contact with finances, Mullaney said, adding that the temporary reassignment is being made at Brown's request.

Brown faces a maximum of five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. He also faces restitution to St. Vincent de Paul to be decided at sentencing on Feb. 9, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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