A Catholic priest has been arrested on suspicion of stealing more than $ 117,000 from church funds to buy drugs for his gay parties.
Father Francesco Spagnesi, 40, a highly regarded priest from Prato, Italy, has been under house arrest while police question 200 people who have allegedly attended his lavish parties over the past two years.
He was arrested after the police were informed that his roommate had imported a liter of the “rape” drug GHB from the Netherlands, The temperature reports.
The pair are said to have used online dating sites to invite guests to their homes, where drugs were being consumed and sold. During the raid on Spagnesis’ apartment, police found bottles that were said to have been adapted for smoking crack cocaine.
Spagnesi is a former medical student who left the priesthood at the age of 26, claiming to have found “fullness and joy in making myself available to others”.
Suspicions were raised when a parish accountant discovered that Spagnesi had withdrawn more than $ 100,000 from the parish bank account. This activity prompted the local bishop to intervene and end the priest’s access to funds, which police believe he was using to buy drugs.
When Spagnesi was no longer able to withdraw money from the church account, he allegedly started withdrawing money from the collection plate and soliciting money directly from parishioners, to whom it has been said to raise funds for low income families.
Local journal La Nazione reports that the parishioners had “great faith in their bright, involved and refined young priest”, but have now taken legal action to recover their money. At least two fraud cases have reached the prosecutor’s office, according to the publication.
According to the Milan daily Corriere Della Sera, Spagnesi blamed a “cocaine vortex” for his actions and also revealed he was HIV positive.
“I don’t recognize myself anymore, the cocaine vortex has swallowed me up,” he said in tears in front of the lawyers. âDrugs made me betray my parishioners, they made me lie, they made me do things I am ashamed of. Now I am HIV positiveâ¦ â
Spagnesi added that he was taking antiretroviral drugs, which meant he could not transmit HIV.
He promised to return the money and sell everything he owns, even his house, to reimburse parishioners
âI beg everyone’s forgiveness,â he said.