HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) — A court date has been set for a former priest who served at St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights.
Rev. Earl Simone is scheduled to appear in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Thursday afternoon before Judge Dennis Langer.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati told 2 NEWS they fully cooperated with investigators in this case and will not comment on the matter until after Thursday’s proceedings.
St. Peter came under investigation for financial irregularities after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati received an ethics complaint in February 2015.
“We move forward as the church has always moved forward. We look to the future rather than to the past. It’s unfortunate that this happened but it is in our past. They survived through the whole thing. As I just said, ministry has only increased even with money going out,” said Father Tony Cutcher, current pastor of St. Peter.
Father Tony said most of St. Peter’s income comes from mass collections. Some of the other funding comes from parish events like festivals and BINGO.
According to court documents filed electronically Wednesday morning and obtained by 2 NEWS, Simone is facing a felony charge with Aggravated Theft of $1.5 million from St. Peter Catholic Church.
Following the probe into the church, Simone resigned as priest from the church, and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr granted his request for medical retirement in April 2015. Simone was the priest of St. Peter from 1992 to 2015. In 2014, he was also appointed as parochial administrator of Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Adalbert, St. Stephen, and Holy Cross.
In a letter to parishioners in a church bulletin, Simone cited “age, health, and personal concerns,” as reasons for his resignation and retirement.
The Archdiocese said after the investigation was initiated, it became aware that Simone owned Flynn Realty, Inc. and had more than two million dollars worth of property. The diocese said a priest is allowed own property, but under Catholic Canon Law, cannot have a business. According to Montgomery County Property records, Simone transferred all of the property he owns to Flynn Realty, Inc. following the probe. At the end of 2015, some of those properties went up for sale with Summers Realty.
“I would think it would be cautiously optimistic. They want to believe that I’m here to help, and they want to trust me, but you know, for the last 20 years, they trusted someone else and that trust was betrayed. So, that’s part of my job as well is to rebuild that trust. Whether someone is stealing money or whether you’re withholding your contribution, the result is still the same. We have less money to do ministry,” said Father Tony.
Auditors from the diocese, Huber Heights Police, and the prosecutor’s office have all been investigating.
2 NEWS will be in court Thursday and bring you the latest details.