Diocese remains under scrutiny

To the editor:

The Ohio Attorney General’s office in August asked the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the possible criminal action against a former Diocese of Steubenville employee. The prosecutor’s office also was asked by the Ohio Attorney General’s office to investigate the finances for the Holy Name Cathedral renovation project.

In the Feb. 7 edition of the Herald-Star, it was stated that authorities still haven’t decided if the former Diocese of Steubenville employee who allegedly used several million dollars in employee payroll taxes to pay other bills will face criminal charges. Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said that the allegations “remain under investigation.”

Where does the local prosecutor’s office stand on the investigation of the finances for the cathedral renovation project that the Ohio Attorney General’s office asked them to investigate? Are those finances still under investigation, too?

Bishop Jeffrey Monforton said that the misappropriation of diocese finances, allegedly by one former employee, had a “direct effect” on renovations to Holy Name Cathedral. Was the money obtained for the cathedral project misappropriated also and not just the payroll tax? Could $2.05 million plus interest, plus undisclosed contributions plus interest since Jan. 1, 2014, in unaccounted- for money designated for the cathedral renovation project be included in the misappropriation?

Monforton said in the Feb. 7 article that he hopes the cathedral renovations will resume, “but I’m also hesitant. It can’t be a financial burden, an albatross, to the diocese.” With all due respect, bishop, it already has become a financial disaster, albatross and embarrassment under your leadership, at the very least. You told your members in 2013 that the renovation project would cost $5 million, and you had $3.75 million at that time. In June 2014 you said the project would be completed within 18 to 24 months. Because of the delays, that project would now cost $15 million based on your budget projections during the past years.

None of the missing money ended up in any private bank accounts, said Dino Orsatti, diocese communications director. If the money did not go into someone’s personal account, where did it go? If no one benefited directly, to what account(s) was the money directed? What benefit, other than the diocese appearing to operate within its budget each year, was there if no one benefited personally? Did this one former employee make decisions on how much and where the money would go on his own for 14 years just so the diocese looked fiscally sound and no one else knew? Hopefully, once the prosecutor’s office completes its investigations, we will have answers to these and other questions.

Frank Krajovic

Roswell, Ga.

(Editor’s note: The writer is a former resident of Toronto and a 1965 graduate of Catholic Central High School.)