Friday, June 02, 2006

Father Hughes: Ten commandments… Who knew?
N.J. Priest Gets 5 Years for Embezzlement

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) -- A priest who pleaded guilty to looting more than $75,000 from his upscale parish to pay for vacations and fancy cars was sentenced Friday to five years in state prison.

The sentence followed prosecutors' recommendation for the Rev. Joseph W. Hughes, 62, who last month admitted embezzling from the Church of the Holy Cross in the Rumson over seven years. Authorities had originally charged him with taking $2 million.

Hughes, who led the parish for 16 years, has agreed to return the money and pay $120,229 in income taxes. He apologized several times during the hearing Friday.

"I betrayed the trust of the people and I am truly and heartfeltly sorry," he told the judge.

Hughes was accused of spending parishioners' donations on Caribbean vacations, BMWs and jewelry. He also bought a $200,000 home for a church carpenter...


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