Disgraced Priest Assigned to Paterson Parish

PATERSON, NJ - A priest who pleaded guilty to taking more than $63,000 from his Morris County parish has come to Paterson to do charity work until his sentencing in February. But church officials have refused to say which parish the priest is staying at and exactly what work he'll be doing.

Richard Sokerka, spokesman for the Diocese of Paterson, said Monsignor Patrick Brown's assignment to a parish in the city is simply a living arrangement, and that he will not be performing mass or other duties with the congregation. Nor would Brown have access to the parish's funds, he said. "He needed a place to live,'' Sokerka said. As for the charity work, Sokerka said it would not be through the parish, but through an outside group.
Why was the disgraced priest sent to the city of Paterson? "He wanted to help people and there's a lot of people in Paterson in need of help,'' said Sokerka. "And he's helped people in Paterson before when he was with the church in Stirling." Brown had done fund-raising for city parishes, he said. Paterson has 16 Roman Catholic parishes, according to the diocese.
Brown pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges on November 3, admitting he used tens of thousands of dollars in parish funds for his own benefit, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney in Newark

Brown, 59, became pastor of St. Vincent de Paul in Parish in Stirling in July 1992, according to federal authorities. As pastor, Brown was authorized to open accounts in the name of the parish, to decide into which accounts donations and other parish monies were deposited, and to determine how those monies were spent, the press release said. Just three days after becoming pastor, Brown opened a bank account funded primarily with parish funds, including money paid that was paid for cemetery plots at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery and related funeral expenses, according to federal authorities.
"Brown misdirected the money, which should have been deposited into the Parish’s cemetery or perpetual care account, into the Chase Account,'' said the press release. "Brown kept the account open until October 2007, and kept it hidden from both the Parish and the Diocese. Brown did not disclose the account’s existence to the Diocese in the Parish’s required yearly financial disclosures or during any of the Diocese-directed financial reviews of the Parish, which occurred every three years.
"Between January 2004 and October 2007, Brown used the Chase Account to fund a number of personal expenditures, including tens of thousands of dollars paid to himself – as well as his mother, siblings, and other family members as gifts, including for Christmas and birthdays,'' continued the U.S. Attorney's release. "He also paid tens of thousands of dollars toward his personal credit card. Charges on that credit card included vacations in Vail, Colorado; Hawaii; and Ireland.''
After closing the first account, Brown opened a second, also using parish funds, " using it to pay for work done on his personal residence in Budd Lake, N.J., and to pay his credit card bills – including charges for a personal trip to Sun Valley, Idaho. Between 2004 and June 2009, Brown used at least $63,706.24 in Parish monies for personal expenditures,'' according to the press release.
Brown, who was chaplain at the Morris County jail and gave the invocation at many Morris County freeholder meetings, was a prodigious fund-raiser for Catholic causes, according to a Star-Ledger story. He sat on the board of 11 charity groups and church officials said he tapped Wall Street executive to donate to struggling schools in Paterson and Passaic, the story said.
Brown resigned from the Stirling parish in October, about a week before he pleaded guilty in federal court. He also paid back the parish the $63,706, as required under the plea agreement, according to the diocese.
On the day of Brown's guilty plea, the diocese released a six-paragraph statement.
"To the great number of people who respect Monsignor Brown and hold him in high esteem for his many good works, this admission brings sorrow and pain,'' the statement said. "His leadership of Saint Vincent DePaul Parish and involvement with numerous charities is well‐known.''
Brown's sentencing is scheduled for February 9. When asked about Brown's future as a priest, Sokerka said, "We'll know more about that after February.''

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


‘We Must Not Be Enemies’

May 9, 2018

Dear Editor

I want to take opportunity to congratulate Mayor Elect Andre Sayegh on his awesome election night victory and for running a campaign to unite all Patersonians. His message of “One Paterson” resonated with the electorate. I believe that Paterson's best days are ahead. He will govern the city the same way he campaigned, always putting Paterson and ...

Free Dog Training Classes

May 22, 2018

Does your family have a new dog or puppy that needs to get trained? You do not have to spend a fortune training Fido. Come to Passaic County's Free Dog Training Sessions in Goffle Brook Park in Hawthorne. Classes are held every Monday and Thursday from 6pm-8pm through June, July, and August. 

For more info, or to see if weather canceled the event, please call 973-881-4833. 

Paterson Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh Announces Transition Team Leadership

PATERSON, NJ – Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh today announced the leadership of his transition team, which will examine the current state of municipal government, make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city services, and help make the necessary preparations for the launch of the new administration on July 1.

“As I said throughout my campaign, we intend to ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Passaic County CASA Recognizes Volunteer Child Advocates at Annual Event

May 11, 2018

WAYNE, NJ- More than 50 staff members, volunteers, and board members from Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated the impact of CASA volunteers at the organization's Volunteer Appreciation Brunch on April 28, 2018, at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne. This annual event recognizes Passaic County CASA volunteer advocates and the difference they make in the lives of ...

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver Testimony on Proposal to Divert Affordable Housing Funds

May 21, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- TAPinto Paterson earlier reported on the response of local community leaders and activists on a proposal by Governor Phil Murphy to divert $46 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) which they wrote in a letter signed by representatives of over 100 groups statewide is “legally dedicated to the creation of affordable homes for lower income ...

Local Advocates Join Statewide Call for Restoration of Affordable Housing Funds

PATERSON, NJ- The leaders of several local organizations including Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Saint Paul’s Community Development Corporation, the Paterson Housing Authority, and the City of Paterson’s Neighborhood Assistance Office lent their signatures to a letter urging Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature to preserve a fund dedicated to creation of affordable ...

The Elections are Over, Now it's Time to Collaborate!

May 21, 2018

For much of the past six months Paterson’s focus has been on the races for mayor and council, and rightly so. The elected officials that serve the nearly 150,000 residents of our city have an enormous responsibility, their actions dictating not just success of our community, but the way our City is perceived.

The election is now behind us, and we congratulate all who took part in the ...