Monday, August 20, 2007

Avarice, Sloth, Envy, Embezzlement?

Confession is good for the soul, as the nuns surely told you years ago. Confess and find peace. You'll feel better after you've told the truth. But if the truth will land you in jail, isn't that another matter altogether?

Anton Zgoznik and Joseph Smith (thank God they're not Irish) are about to go on trial for embezzling a bit from the Cleveland diocese. They won't confess their many sins and be forgiven. Instead, they're accusing God's representatives on earth. It was the Bishop's doing, they've said, and he's the one who should be on his knees in the confessional.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Smith got kick-backs from Mr. Zgoznik, a cost of doing business for Mr. Zgoznik who landed a contract that was worth $17.5 million. It was a sizable project, to handle the accounting for the entire diocese, and what accountant wouldn't want such a highly public and potentially lucrative position? There's a lot of business that would accrue to the Church's bean counter from those who would assume they could trust Mr. Zgoznik, seeing as he works for a religious organization.

It's Joseph Smith (is he a Mormon by any chance?) who's really in deep, standing accused of lifting a bit off the top from the cemetery fund and getting a bonus from the insurance agent for the privilege of selling insurance to the Cleveland diocese. Naturally, the ill-gotten gains were hidden so that the IRS never got their cut, and they're exceptionally fond of getting their slice of the money pie.

But Mr. Smith's attorney insists that his client is merely a scapegoat for Bishop Anthony Pilla (sounds like an Italian -- Mafia maybe?) who had off-book accounts and no one knows if it's his savings or profits of a skim operation. And of course, Father John Wright (there's an English name for you and you know you can't trust them), the priest who was the diocesan financial guru, is saying that Smith and Zgoznik pulled a fast one on him, the trusting man of God who must not have ever looked at the books for twenty years. But he'd say that, the defense team adds, because he was pocketing cash himself.

It sounds like everyone was on the take, from the head honcho on down to the secretary, who by the way has been accused of being Father Wright's girlfriend. A tangled web, filled with greed and intrigue, and it will take a while for the federal prosecutors to present the case so that a jury can follow the money trail. Someone will go to jail eventually, the money will most likely never be completely recovered, and not all of the guilty will be made to suffer.

The ones to suffer the most are the parish priests who have to get up in front of the congregation and preach the gospel. My house is a house of prayer, they will read from the New Testament, and you have made it a den of thieves. But do as I say, of course, and not as I do. Hello? Is there anyone sitting out there in the pews? Any parishioners left?


Anonymous said...

Didn't Mommy teach Mr. Z that just because your buddies were shoplifting (or cheating, or fibbing--- insert your favorite transgression) from the local store, it was still a SIN? ROFLMAO off at the flimsy defense "But EVERYONE is DOOOOOING it Mom!" while dipping into the little old stara babas coin purses.

O hAnnrachainn said...

And if everyone were jumping off a cliff, would you be doing it as well?

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan tried that defense too. He was on the take because everyone else was and that's how things were in Springfield. He was still found guilty.