Monsignor William Dombrow embezzled a half a million dollars meant to fund the care of aging and retired priests to cover his copious gambling debts, buy concert tickets and pay for expensive trips abroad. The church has forgiven him but the federal justice system won’t let him get away with it.
U.S. District Judge Gerald J. Pappert sentenced the former rector of Villa St. Joseph to eight months in prison for his embezzlement case. The judge said there’s a need to punish a man who stole thousands meant to fund the needs of a retirement home for priests in Darby Borough.
The judge was surprised with the leaders of Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Dombrow’s supporters’ seeming “no harm, no foul” attitude towards the erring Monsignor and his crimes.
Pappert said that Dombrow took advantage of other people’s generosity and kindness to fund his lifestyle or even his addiction.
Dombrow was discovered to have spent thousands, too, on theater and Philly Pops tickets, fancy dinners, and travel to Florida, Aruba, and Italy.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella said: “He ate whatever he wanted. He spent whatever he wanted. He’s going to casinos. He’s taking trips.”
Dombrow pleaded guilty in May to four counts of wire fraud. He also admitted that for almost nine years he had siphoned money from the bequests of parishioners and life-insurance payouts from priests who died at the retirement facility.
The Monsignor’s crimes were discovered two years ago when the bank administering the account flagged several suspicious transactions at Harrah’s Philadelphia & Racetrack and notified the archdiocese.
The 78-year-old Dombrow is a recovering addict who spent much of his career in the ministry to help priests and others struggling with addiction issues. In his defense, he tried to paint in court on Wednesday an image of him also being a victim of an unaddressed fixation with gambling.
Punishment for Dombrow would also include an order for him to pay the archdiocese $533,258 in restitution. He actually got a lighter punishment as his eight-month prison sentence is shorter than the federal sentencing guidelines of about 2 and a half years.