Galante and Follieri: the Bishop and the Con Man
July 15th's (2008) New York Post breaks with A Deal with the Devil, detailing Camden Bishop Joseph Galante's working relationship with Italian con artist and playboy Raffaello Follieri, jailed two weeks ago on federal fraud and money-laundering charges (PDF) in a complicated scheme to use investor money to buy up Catholic churches at below market value then "flip them" for profit. The Bishop sold Follieri his $400,000 beach house in January 2007 (it was back on sale recently) even as news of the scheme was unraveling and even as the Bishop was working on the plan to close and sell off half of the churches in his diocese…I sort of heard about this Vati-Con money laundering scandal back in 2008, regarding the sale of church properties cheaply to a supposed front for the Vatican named Raffaello Follieri. In fact I did not hear the full details of it. I only got the tail end of it with the convicted con man Follieri’s Hollywood trophy girlfriend Anne Hatthaway having some of her jewelry siezed by the FBI that Follieri had given to her, bought with stolen funds.
The NCR profile showed that Follieri Group lavished a lot of time and money on the 2006 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, providing a "hospitality suite" for the bishops and lobbying them on real estate sales. At the meeting the bishops changed the rules on Vatican oversight on large sales of church property. A important player in the Conference was its former spokesperson, Bishop Joseph Galante.
All rather murky. Sounds like the Vatican outsourced money laundering this time – not wanting another Banco Ambrosiano scandal to hit directly home. There is a need to efficiently and legally transfer funds overseas from the fire sale of parish properties going on now in America.
But considering how easy it is for dioceses to go bankrupt these days to stiff both the victims of sex abuse and the loyal faithful who get uprooted and Bishops who don’t have to dig into their private Swiss bank accounts to chip in for collateral damage so to speak…
Fox 29 News Covers Bishop Galante's "McRanchon"
I think it an absolute disgrace that Bishop Galante being in bed through the profitable sale of his $400,000 beach cottage to later convicted felon Follieri - a gross, contempible and probably illegal conflict of interest with the same people buying up used parish properties.
I think it also a disgrace if a man of his immence private means, Bishop Galante is building his Xanadu under cover of a $1,500,000 fixer upper property for “nuns”. Isn’t this all a polite way of building a bishops’s palace without calling it a Bishop’s Palace in these hard economic times – if this article’s interpretation of matters is correct. (It’s good to be the bishop.)
When the honest history is written of all this current Corruption of the American Roman Catholic Church – sex abuse, parish closings, real estate profits/fraud, money laundering and bankruptcies – I hope the Vatican doesn’t put its hands up and say “We didn’t know!” ( about the American version of Banco Ambrosiano – Part Deux ).
I think we need the indictment of a few American and Vatican RC Bishops for organized money fraud under the RICO Act to wake up and turn around this bogus, corrupt layer of bureaucrats, domestically and internationally, that are acting more like the Board of Directors of Bear Stearns than the so-called leaders of the church founded by Christ.
Parishioners with their butts out in the cold should not be petitioning the Vatican but rather the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.