07 April 2009

TEC priest arrested for embezzelment

I have posted several times on the embezzlement by the former rector of Grace and St. Stephen's in Colorado and, so, I would be a hypocrite if I did not report this story out of the Diocese of New York.

North Shore Episcopal Church's former Rector, the Rev. William Blasingame has been arrested for embezzling nearly $85,000 since 2005. He used the money to pay for a long list of personal items including plastic surgery and Botox injections according to an article in the Stanten Island Advance.

The funds came from two accounts - the Friends of St. Paul's foundation and a discretionary fund meant to provide small stipends to parishioners and others in need.

According to the indictment, Blasingame would not allow the records of these two accounts to be examined by the parish treasurer.

Included in the list of items he used the money for was a $245 pair of shoes imported from London. However, he lived in "a squalid existence in the rectory." It took five 40-yard dumpsters to clear out the debris and filth" from the rectory.

The senior warden said he first realized something was amiss with the bookkeeping when he was updating the church's bank information online and stumbled across the upkeep account, which showed Father Blasingame had written checks to himself.

He requested that the Diocese of New York compel Blasingame to reveal the contents of the accounts.

Blasingame resigned his 31-year rectorate on a disability pension and was initially was treated at Richmond University Medical Center and then transferred to Summit Oaks Hospital in New Jersey, which specializes in the treatment of chemical abuse and mental illness.

When the church officers cleared out the rectory, they found documents with the account number of his original discretionary account, and found the records of his payments to plastic surgeons and details of other transactions.

After consulting with the diocese, Mingoia gave the books to Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan's office.

A forensic investigation into the church's accounting followed, and Father Blasingame surrendered to the district attorney's NYPD detective squad on Friday morning, according to Donovan spokesman William J. Smith. Blasingame was arraigned in Stapleton Criminal Court Friday, and is slated to return 12 May.
Blasingame's attorney called the allegations a "bad mistake" and suggested the vestry "has it in" for their former rector.
I think this Mingoia made a big mistake in accusing him of stealing money. It's crazy. There's some kind of a vendetta out there, and there's more than meets the eye.
The attorney pointed to Father Blasingame's 31 years as the church's pastor, and said he "lives a very simple life and drives a heap of the car."

Mingoia flatly rejected Hasson's claim of a vendetta, saying the church at this point is interested in restitution.

There is no monopoly on misconduct of clergy; it infects all churches and theological positions. And it always gives Jesus a black eye in the public arena.

Tip of the Biretta to Mike at Trinity, New York or sending me the article and some additional information on this story.

Christ, the Life of all the living,
Christ the Death of death, our foe,
Who Thyself for us once giving
To the darkest depths of woe,
Patiently didst yield Thy breath
But to save my soul from death;
Praise and glory ever be,
Blessèd Jesus, unto Thee.

Thou, O Christ, hast taken on Thee
Bitter strokes, a cruel rod;
Pain and scorn were heaped upon Thee,
O Thou sinless Son of God,
Only thus for me to win
Rescue from the bonds of sin;
Praise and glory ever be,
Blessèd Jesus, unto Thee.

Thou hast suffered men to bruise Thee
That from pain I might be free;
Falsely did Thy foes accuse Thee,
Thence I gain security;
Comfortless Thy soul did languish
Me to comfort in my anguish.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.

Then, for all that wrought our pardon,
For Thy sorrows deep and sore,
For Thine anguish in the garden,
I will thank Thee evermore;
Thank Thee with my latest breath
For Thy sad and cruel death,
For that last and bitter cry
Praise Thee evermore on high.