Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Father Sam Ciccolini aka Daddy Bigbucks!
This is the Armon/Jenkins' story:
"A Roman Catholic priest who has earned international accolades for helping alcoholics and drug addicts was charged Tuesday with evading federal banking requirements and filing a false tax return. The Rev. Samuel R. Ciccolini (pic), 68, better known as 'Father Sam,' is accused of depositing more than $1 million in bank branches in the Akron area from April to June 2003 by making 139 individual cash transactions, federal authorities say.
Banks are required to report deposits of more than $10,000 to federal authorities under the Bank Secrecy Act, which is designed to catch money laundering. Authorities contend Ciccolini deposited lower amounts so as not to trigger the reporting requirement. Ciccolini, who founded and serves as executive director of the Interval Brotherhood Home in Coventry Township, also is accused of filing a tax return in 2004 claiming his income for the previous year was $101,064 when it was $407,062, according to the charge filed in federal court in Akron.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Robert Bulford would not comment on why Ciccolini would want to evade the reporting requirement or where he got more than $1 million. Ciccolini is charged with one count of structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements and one count of making and subscribing a false tax return.Ciccolini, whose residence is at Immaculate Conception church in the Kenmore area of Akron, could not be reached for comment.
Ed Stanford, assistant director of administration and finance at the Interval Brotherhood Home, said Ciccolini was on a retreat and won't return until next week. ''He takes a few days, sparingly, to reflect and meditate,'' Stanford said. Attorney Peter Cahoon, of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, who is representing Ciccolini with attorney Gregory Plesich, declined to comment. He said he expects a court date to be set within the next two weeks.
Ciccolini built an international reputation for his outreach and treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts at the Interval Brotherhood Home, just south of Akron. He founded the facility on Oct. 7, 1970, in an abandoned Carmelite monastery and has served as executive director ever since. The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland priest was ordained in 1969. Before founding the Interval Brotherhood Home, he served in three local parishes: Queen of Heaven in Green and St. Paul and St. Anthony of Padua, both in Akron. Diocesan officials declined to comment, saying they had no knowledge of the charges.
Friends and colleagues reacted in disbelief to the charges against Ciccolini, saying he is a man with a flawless reputation. ''Father Sam has impeccable credentials and incredible integrity. Whatever questions there are, there must be plausible and appropriate explanations,' said Tom Allio, retired executive director of the Catholic Commission of Summit County. 'I've known Father Sam for 40 years, and I would follow him anywhere.'
Ron Tedeschi, a member of the Interval Brotherhood Home board of trustees, was shocked to hear of the charges. The Granger Township resident is also a member of the Browns Backers of Akron, a group that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Interval Brotherhood Home over the years.'I don't think there's a dishonest bone in his body — and the people around me would vouch for him. He's just such a kind man. He's always been up and up on everything as far as I'm concerned,' Tedeschi said. 'I'd have to see how this all comes out before I'd ever believe something like that. . . . [T]here would probably be a line from the courthouse to Medina of people vouching for him.'
Tom Killian, another trustee and local attorney, said audits of the nonprofit organization show no indication of any misuse of funds. In 2000, Ciccolini was honored by Pope John Paul II for his work and concelebrated Mass with the pope in the pontiff's private chapel in the Vatican. A 2005 profile in the Beacon Journal described him as 'a salesman of compassion and treatment for those who self-destruct through drink and drugs.' Those interviewed called him a powerful fundraiser and promoter for the nonprofit group, which had helped more than 15,000 men and women at that time.
In 2008, Ciccolini was paid $99,615 by Interval Brotherhood Home and another $83,414 by the I.B.H. Foundation Inc., according to the federal tax records. The structuring and tax return charges carry potential penalties of up to five years and three years in prison, respectively. They also carry a potential fine of $250,000."
I'm just speculating, but my guess is that Father Sam may be involved in laundering some money for others. Perhaps Father Ciccolini rationalizes that in doing these small favors for friends he can do well for others? Then again, I am purely speculating, he may well be innocent. Lots of money under his name in Ohio Banks? Maybe American Catholic and Brother Tito can sort it out for us?