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

Paterson

City Council Candidate to Voters: Let Your Voice Be Heard

February 20, 2018

Dear Editor:

It is very important for the citizens of Paterson to participate in local city-wide elections because elected officials can help determine the economic, educational and social well-being of entire communities. For example, two very important tasks of city council members include making laws and allocating money.

Elected officials are the gatekeepers for millions of dollars in ...

Dreams for Service Dog for Autistic Montville Resident Become Reality

February 22, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ - Faith Stanley, a Towaco resident and a single mother of four boys, sought help for her youngest son, Joey, who is almost three years old and diagnosed with autism. Amazingly enough, Faith found the help she needed!

Due to the generosity and help of so many people, Faith has managed to reach her goal of raising ...

Paterson Hosts Statewide Event as National El Sistema Leader

February 22, 2018

PATERSON—On March 10, nearly 300 students from seven New Jersey immersive ensemble music learning programs will converge in Paterson for the 4th annual Fiddlefest and Falala Festival. A day of music making and a celebration of culture and community for both the students and their families, the festival features the Paterson-based program Paterson Music Project (PMP), in addition to the New ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...