Rome — A Rome court dropped charges of corruption against an Italian monsignor, yet found him guilty of slander and gave him a two-year suspended sentence.
Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, a former accountant in a Vatican office overseeing property and investments, remains accused of money laundering and illegal lending in two other separate trials in Salerno in southern Italy.
Along with an Italian financier and a former Italian secret service agent, Scarano was arrested in 2013 as part of the Rome district attorney's investigations into an alleged plot to bring 20 million euros from Switzerland to Italy aboard a private plane without declaring the money to Italian authorities. News reports at the time said the monsignor claimed he was trying to help Italian friends recover money they had given the financier to invest and that he had promised to pay the secret service agent to arrange the flight.
In their decision Jan. 18, the Rome court judges gave the monsignor a suspended sentence of two years for falsely accusing the former secret agent of stealing a check for 200,000 euros. According to the charges, the monsignor had given the former agent the check as part of a deal the judges found not to involve corruption.
Scarano told the Italian daily, Il Mattino, Jan. 19, "I prayed so much that the Lord enlighten the judges and my prayers have been answered."
He told the paper he got involved with the broker in the hopes of persuading him to "to return money he had illegitimately gotten ahold of" from his friends. "I was woefully naive and anything but the cunning banker I had been described as many times, and so I fell into a maelstrom of deceit that destroyed my life but not my faith."
When asked about the upcoming trials in Salerno, the monsignor -- a priest of the Archdiocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acero -- said he would not hide any evidence. "When the judges heard me in Rome, I told the whole truth about what had happened. And I was believed. I will do the same thing in Salerno."
Scarano was arrested for the second time in early 2014 after an investigation by the Salerno branch of the Italian finance police on suspicion of money laundering after several claims that he gave people cash in exchange for checks marked as donations.
The monsignor had said he didn't want to deposit his own money because he didn't want bank employees to know how much money he had.
The two cases underway in Salerno concern charges of money laundering as well as usury and illegal financing.
The Vatican suspended the monsignor from his job as an accountant in late May 2013 after it learned that he was under criminal investigation in Italy.
The Vatican's criminal court later froze the monsignor's Vatican bank accounts and opened its own criminal investigation into how he used the accounts.