Prominent Philadelphia Rector Embezzles $500,000 to Fund Gambling Habit

Published May 1, 2017 by Elana K

A rector of a Philadelphia Archdiocese retirement home for aging priests was recently charged with embezzling over $500,000 from the home. The motivation behind the crime? To fund an elegant lifestyle for himself, including casino outings.

Gambling and the Church - they don’t go together, right? Well, unfortunately, sometimes they do. A rector of a Philadelphia Archdiocese retirement home for aging priests was recently charged with embezzling over $500,000 from the home. Not one of the Church's finest moments.

Federal prosecutors have charged Monsignor William A. Dombrow, aged 77, with four counts of wire fraud by way of a criminal information. If convicted, he could face 80 years in prison.

Most of the money from the retirement home's account came from life insurance payouts of priests who had died or from parishioners who wanted to support the facility. The embezzlement took place over the course of nine years.

Why, Father, Why?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella reported that the reason for Dombrow's theft was to fund an elegant lifestyle for himself, replete with expensive dinners, concerts, and you guessed it, gambling.

Caught in the Act

Dombrow was finally caught when the bank became aware of some suspicious transactions at Harrah’s Casino in Chester, and notified the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Dombrow’s lawyer, Coley O. Reynolds, stated, “The monsignor is remorseful and ashamed of his conduct. He’s done a lot of great things for the people of the parish and the archdiocese.”

Unfortunately, it's not easy to remember the good when faced with a betrayal of trust of this magnitude.

Abuse of Power

While it's easy to point a finger at gambling and decry it as evil, the real evil in this case is the abuse of power. It’s unfortunate that people who are in the position to do so much good end up using their power and doing something destructive.

Avid gamblers know that there are ways to get help for gambling problems - all they need to do is seek it. Dombrow could have sought help, but instead he chose to indulge his problem. Federal prosecutors have no intention of turning the other cheek.

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