Disgraced Pinoy priest gets 13 more years in jail

By RODNEY J. JALECO, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jan 15 2009 03:32 AM | Updated as of Jan 16 2009 10:58 AM

WASHINGTON DC - Disgraced Filipino priest Rodney Rodis was sentenced Wednesday (Jan. 14) to 13 years in prison for defrauding hundreds of parishioners in Louisa County, Virginia.

The new prison term is on top of the five-year sentence meted in February 2008 by a federal court in Richmond for money laundering and mail fraud.

Rodis, a native of Cagayan de Oro City, was convicted of diverting almost $600,000 in church collections to support a family in Spotsylvania that he had successfully hidden from his parishioners for over a decade, and to reportedly help relatives in the Philippines.

He was parish priest of the Immaculate Conception church in Buckner and the St. Jude church in Mineral in central Virginia until mid-2007.

He was credited with reinvigorating the parishes, and drawing more people to mass.

Rodis reportedly mounted frequent charities and fund-raising activities to build up his parishes, but instead deposited a large portion of collections to a private bank account.

The fraud was discovered after Rodis was replaced as parish priest after he suffered a stroke and figured in a car accident that left him walking with a limp.

The jury that deliberated on his embezzlement case asked Judge Timothy Sanner to sentence him to 200 years. He noted this may have been a result of emotional testimony from angry parishioners.

Judge Sanner also ordered Rodis to pay restitution to the Catholic Church within five years after completing his sentence.

Rodis arrived in Virginia Beach sometime in 1994 and soon worked as a substitute priest in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

Diocese officials say Rodis will be defrocked but only the Vatican can expel him from the church.

Victims’ lawyers said earlier they will ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to step in to track Rodis’ alleged properties in the Philippines, to recover part, if not all, of the stolen money.