DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A former pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights appeared in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Thursday afternoon.
2 NEWS was there when Rev. Earl Simone arrived for his court appearance.
Simone pleaded guilty to aggravated theft of $1.5 million. He appeared before Judge Dennis Langer in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. The judge gave Simone five years in prison without the possibility of early release as part of the plea agreement. Simone will also have to repay more than $1.9 million to St. Peter.
Simone’s attorney, David Williamson, released a statement. He said, “By entering his guilty plea today, Fr. Simone has accepted responsibility for his actions. Today marks the end of an almost year-long process during which we have cooperated with the Prosecuting Attorney’s investigation. As the presentence process plays itself out, we will have more to say at a later date, and ask that the confidentiality of that process be respected.”
Simone is due back in court on April 22 for formal sentencing.
St. Peter came under investigation for financial irregularities after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati received an ethics complaint in Feb. 2015.
Simone was appointed as pastor of St. Peter in 1992. He resigned from the church and went on medical retirement in April 2015.
“Service to the people of God as a pastor is a sacred trust,” said Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati. “Fr. Simone’s violation of that trust has saddened and deeply disappointed me.
“When Archdiocesan staff members and I have visited St. Peter, we have been impressed by the vibrancy of the parish and school. Our staff will do all that they can to help the parish move forward under the leadership of the current pastor, Rev. Anthony Cutcher, while continuing to pray for healing in the parish.”
The Archdiocese said Simone ceased serving St. Peter in March 2015 and officially resigned as pastor of St. Peter and three other parishes in April. Simone resigned from active ministry at that time as well. The Archdiocese said Simone does not receive a pension from the Archdiocese because he receives a full military pension for his prior service as an officer.