Priest spent church money on secret family

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A retired Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his parishioners, money he used in part to support his secret family.

Rev. Rodney Rodis walks into court in a 2007 file photo. The former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

Rodney Rodis, 51, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in October in the theft of more than $600,000 in donations from St. Jude Church and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Louisa County between 2002 and 2006.

U.S. District Judge Richard Williams on Thursday issued the maximum punishment under federal sentencing guidelines and gave Rodis credit for time already served.

The judge also ordered Rodis to repay the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond more than $591,000 and required the Filipino native to meet with federal immigration officials for possible deportation after his prison term ends.

Before Williams handed down the sentence, Rodis recited a litany of apologies to his victims, including the Catholic church, his family and society in general.

"I hope that one day I'll be able to rectify my mistakes," he said.

Authorities said Rodis set up bank accounts and a post office box where he directed parishioners to send contributions. Rodis then transferred the money to his personal account, using it to support his family -- a wife and three children, whom he concealed from parishioners. He also wired money overseas to relatives who used it to buy real estate.

Robert J. Wagner, an attorney representing Rodis, asked for leniency because of his client's poor health, which includes prostate cancer and heart problems.

After the hearing, the priest who succeeded Rodis after his 2006 retirement said he wasn't convinced of the sincerity of his predecessor's apologies.

"He did this for five years, systematically, and in a very organized way," the Rev. Michael Duffy said. "Restitution is what we're after." ... index.html