Already facing prison, Huber priest sued by Archdiocese

Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 4:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 4:45 PM

The Rev. Earl Simone, awaiting sentencing in common pleas court after admitting to stealing $1.92 million from parishioners to buy real estate, also has been sued by the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

The civil lawsuit filed last month in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court was brought by plaintiffs Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and the St. Peter Roman Catholic Church. Simone and John Does 1-10 are listed as the defendants in the suit, which seeks the return of the money.

“In March 2016, the State of Ohio indicted Fr. Simone for theft from the Archdiocese and/or the Parish over several years,” the complaint said of Simone, who served at the Huber Heights church from August 1992 until March 2015. “John Does 1-10, all of whom are believed to be non-clerics, were complicit and conspirators of Fr. Simone in the theft and its cover up.”

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A June 27 teleconference is scheduled to determine Simone’s sentencing date.

Along with the $1.92 million, the suit seeks punitive damages, costs and attorney fees. It alleges that Simone charged personal expenses on Parish credit accounts and wrote himself unauthorized checks on Parish checking accounts.

The suit alleges that Simone and others converted funds to purchase dozens of parcels of real estate around Dayton under his name and affiliated corporate entities such as “Flynn.”

“We do fairly routinely file a civil case at the conclusion of a criminal case,” said Richard Kelly, chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. “We do everything we can to try to recover stolen monies. We’ve found that following with a civil case seems to give us more flexibility in collecting the money.”

The lawsuit also alleged that Simone and his co-conspirators caused fraudulent journal entries and/or omissions to exist on the books and the records of the Parish, stating that the commission and omission was “malicious.”

In March, the 75-year-old Simone sat in a wheelchair as Judge Dennis Langer convicted him of a first-degree felony count of aggravated theft in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

A Dayton Daily News investigation last year found Simone had accumulated huge debts from unpaid taxes and court judgments on property he owned — mostly in Huber Heights — and businesses he operated during his years as pastor of the church.

The newspaper’s investigation found that between 1994 and 2014 Simone bought $2.8 million worth of property. He had $670,637 in court judgments, settlements and tax liens released after he made payments between 1999 and 2013.

In a deal reached with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office, Simone pleaded guilty and agreed to serve a 5-year prison sentence that cannot be reduced for any reason, repay $1.9 million and assist in the prosecution of anyone else involved.