Father Flim-Flam, Who Stole Close to $1 Million Dollars, Finally Goes to Prison Putting the Catholic Church’s Reputation in Crisis Again!
“I am just truly, truly sorry that I used money for my own purpose that I had no right to do.” Monsignor John Woolsey said before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bruce Allen.
The Manhattan monsignor known as “Father Flim-Flam” was contrite for his sins yesterday – but he’ll still have to serve his penance in prison. Previously Woolsey commented in the press that, “everyone does it”. His assumption that every priest steals like he did caught many off guard. Msgr. John Woolsey was led off in handcuffs to start his 1-to-4-year prison term, prompting several of his supporters to weep in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The 69-year-old priest, who pleaded guilty to raiding the St. John the Martyr’s coffers of more than $50,000 so he could splurge on Rolex watches and European golfing trips, also must finish paying back $200,000 to his former parish. ”I am just truly, truly sorry that I used money for my own purpose that I had no right to do,” Woolsey said before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bruce Allen.
Woolsey arrived in Allen’s courtroom with a check for $100,000, a few friends from the priesthood and dozens of supporters, several of whom had written to the judge pleading for mercy for him.
Allen received more than 140 letters in support of Woolsey – including one from Edward Cardinal Egan – that recounted the priest’s good works and years of service.
“It has touched me,” Allen said.
But the judge told the monsignor, who prosecutors contend stole more than $1 million, that he was shipping him to prison.
“You should know that across the street in Criminal Court, people who have stolen cans of tuna fish wind up going to jail for 30 days or 60 days,” Allen said.
Prosecutors had pushed to have Woolsey serve a 2-to-6-year sentence and to pay back $800,000, charging that he transferred nearly $837,000 in church funds to his own checking account so he could pay his credit card bill.
An additional $270,000 that had been in the church’s possession also could not be accounted for, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Amatruda said.
“It’s time to end the jockeying . . . and send this man to prison,” Amatruda said. The prosecutor used Woolsey’s own words against him when he produced a letter to parishioners in which the pastor lamented how modern life is built on “sands of self-gratification, sands of materialism and sands of relative morality.”
“The taint for his actions is going to be difficult to erase . . . and land on the shoulders of people who selflessly performed charitable acts,” Amatruda said. Defense attorney Nicholas DeFeis chalked up Woolsey’s crimes as irrational acts committed by a priest who “is not the caricature that is made out in the press.”
He added that although Woolsey did purchase more than 50 high-priced watches, he kept only one at a time. ”The purchases in this case were compulsive, competitive and irrational,” DeFeis said.
Woolsey said several supporters have offered him jobs once he completes his prison sentence – which will last at least 6 months before the deeply tanned monsignor is eligible for a work-release program. The unyielding support from his flock of followers has been his biggest blessing, he said.
“Those words are keeping me standing,” Woolsey said. “It’s what is holding me up.”
A few comments from the Reputation Doctor regarding Father Flim-Flam:
Thou shalt not steal!
This is the eighth commandment of the important Ten Commandments in the Bible. As a priest, Monsignor John Woolsey knew all of the commandments in the Bible very well. These laws set a new standard of morality thousands of years ago and have been forgotten by many today. The Monsignor studied them and even memorized them for many years, but did he live them? The answer is surely no. As a result he has a reputation in crisis.
The Bible is the origin of accountability.
The Bible urges accountability in many areas. Christian leaders were given a pattern to follow as to how they were to relate and function, and they were called to model this pattern to others. The manner in which they were to exercise their leadership was not something they were to decide on their own. They knew that God would ultimately hold them accountable for how well they fulfilled their leadership responsibilities. Each person needs other good people with whom they can be honest and accountable (Ephesians 4:25; James 5:16).
Practice what you preach or your reputation too will be damaged.
Monsignor Woolsey is now known globally as Father Flim-Flam. Sadly, this new name is part of the consequences of his actions. Woolsey should have also remembered the old saying practice what you preach. Sadly this priest thought he would never get caught. His arrogance will not only be paid for on earth with his damaged reputation, but he will also be judged again, more severely by God. However, he has an opportunity to fully repent not just in words, but in his heart with God and those he has harmed. Do you practice what you preach? Be careful. Think of areas where you fall short today and create a reputation management plan to correct them now. Full transparency and accountability are two important tools to help you on your journey to an excellent reputation.
Remember, do the right thing when your reputation is in crisis and seek the counsel of an experienced reputation management expert. It will be a major challenge, but ultimately the rewards of repairing your reputation will be great. Why? Because Your Reputation Is Everything!™