A federal judge sentenced Las Vegas priest Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe, 59, to three years in prison earlier today.
The Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty in October to embezzling $650,000 from the gift shop, candle collection, mission and prayer funds at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Summerlin.
He allegedly used the funds to support his gambling habit.
McAuliffe's attorney had asked for leniency, reports the Associated Press. He wanted the Las Vegas priest to serve probation so that he could enter addiction counseling, pay restitution and continue his work.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Christina Brown believed that justice would be better served with 3 years in prison -- much less than the maximum 60 years behind bars.
Kevin McAuliffe may have pleaded guilty, but he still lied to investigators. Having been given complete control of church finances, he was able to embezzle funds for approximately 10 years.
The Las Vegas priest also breached the fiduciary duty he owed to his parishioners and the church. He comforted and counseled these people, Brown told the judge. He even referred some of them to gambling addiction programs.
Many of those parishioners have forgiven McAuliffe, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Dozens wrote letters to the court on his behalf. But they, too, were unable to save the priest from his intended fate.
Sometimes good works, community service and a heartfelt apology can lead to a lesser sentence. But sometimes, they are not enough to overshadow one's crimes. No matter how much good he's done in this world, Kevin McAuliffe still engaged in a decade-long fraud. The Las Vegas priest was destined for jail.
- Thieving priest deserves to be treated like any other criminal (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
- Fraud and Financial Crimes (FindLaw)
- Gambling Nun Accused of Embezzling $850K (FindLaw Blotter)