Kearny pastor must pay back nearly $90,000 stolen from parish coffers

The Jersey Journal/June 24, 2011

Kearny - The former pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church was sentenced yesterday for stealing nearly $90,000 from parish coffers and he will have to pay restitution to the Archdiocese of Newark.

"It is the type of crime that shocks the conscience of not only the community but also the parish that the defendant was ordained to serve," said Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Leo Hernandez of the deeds of the Rev. James J. Reilly, 69.

A regular audit of parish finances by the Archdiocese revealed Reilly had diverted about $87,000 in parish money to his own use, leading to his arrest on Feb. 15, Hernandez said.

The former pastor pleaded guilty to theft on May 13 and yesterday he was sentenced to three years probation by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Kevin Callahan, Hernandez said. A restitution hearing will be scheduled to determine the exact amount Reilly must pay back to the Archdiocese, Hernandez said.

The prosecutor said Reilly had control of several parish bank accounts. The former pastor resigned his post at the Kearny parish after the theft was discovered.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said Reilly is no longer at Our Lady of Sorrows and is now at a Jersey City parish, which he refused to name.

Ordained in 1968, Reilly earned a master’s degree in public administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University, according to a profile in the Catholic Advocate, the Archdiocese’s newsletter.

He served as the campus minister at FDU, as well as at Upsala College in East Orange and Kean University, before being appointed pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows in 2005.

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