The Rev. Guldo John Carcich, a Catholic priest who masterminded the massive direct mail fund-raising operation of the Pallottine Fathers, was charged today with embezzling at least $1.4 million donated for the poor and hiding more than $15 million of Pallottine money in secret bank accounts.
Carcich used huge amounts of money for himself, according to the 61-count indictment, and dispensed tens of thousands of dollars to others. He allegedly diverted $10,000 each of two other Pallottines, the Rev. Peter Sticco and Brother John Inzetta. He allegedly transferred money and investments to his former secretary, his accountant and to a federal employee. He also used $52,000 of the funds to build a home for his niece in New Jersey, the indictment said.
In addition, he was charged with personally misappropriating for himself partnership interests - specifically land investments - when they rightfully belonged to the religious order.
The indictment was returned by a special Maryland grand jury, assembled last year after two years of newspaper publicity about the religious order, including the disclosure that it had loaned a total of $54,000 to then Gov. Marvin Mandel to help finance his 1974 divorce.
Until today, the articulate and jaunty priest - known to his friends as "Father John" and "the Good Father" - had refused to comment or be interviewed by reporters and had, in fact, mysteriously disappeared from the Baltimore area after being barred from priestly duties by the archbishop of Baltimore.
Today, he appeared at the Washington office of his attorney, Brendan Sullivan, to state his innocence and denounce the state attorney general's office which prosecuted him. The "means by which this indictment was developed" would "shock every citizen who believes in due process and the American Constitution," he said.
Then he was taken to Baltimore, processed an fingerprinted by authorities, the first prist in recent times to be charged with felonies in connection with official relgous activity. He faces up to 300 years in prison, theoretically, if convicted.
Carcich was released on his own recognizance after appearing at a bail review hearing before Baltimore Criminal Court Judge Robert L. Karwacki. As a condition of his release, the judge directed Carcich to surrender his passport and limit his domestic travels to the East Coast unless accompanied by his lawyers.
The grand jury began investigating Carcich after an audit revealed that the Pallottines were only sending a fraction - about 25 per cent - of their charitable contributions to their foreign missions while using millions of dollars for speculative real estate investments and loans to businessmen with political connections.
While he headed the Pallottine's massive, Baltimore-based direct mail campaign (in which photos of Asian and African children with distended bellies were used to encourage contributions) Carcich wove an intricate web of financial dealings between the religious order and rich, well-connected Maryland businessmen. Among those were W. Dale Hess, who was convicted with Gov. Mandel on mail fraud and racketeering charges: George W. White, Jr., a family lawyer and confident of former Vice President Spiro Agnew and two former Mandel campaign treasures including Donald E. Webster, the accountant and Pallottine adviser who committed suicide in Ocean City last month.
Webster was named in the indictment as a participant in Carcich's alleged schemes.
Several of Pallottine land ventures are named in the indictment along with the charge that Carcich, somtimes operating with the help of Webster, embezzled the religious order's property interests and converted them to his own use and or the use of Webster. The grand jury did not assign a monetary value to those interests.
Another count of the indictment charges Carcich with diverting for his own purposes $50,000 from a Pallottine investment in Sanibel Island, Fla., where the religious order bought 14 condominium units in December, 1975, for $667,500.
Carcich is also accused of siphoning off $10,000 each for Father Sticco and Brother Inzetta; $10,000 for Henry B. and Mary Gerk, who once served as Carcich's secretary; between $25,000 and $40,000 for Ann Carnaggio, a former parishioner who now lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and $20,000 for the federal employee.
John Giannini, a former postal service customer service representative, Senate Post Office Committee aide and now and aide to U.S. Sen. Jennings Randolph (D-W. Va.), told The Post today that he was the "federal employee" referred to in the indictment. He said he did not "want to talk about it now" except to say he was not involved in any wrong-doing.
Carcich as head of the Pallottines' direct mail operation, was deeply interested in postal service policy on direct mail and legislative activity in that same area.
In another count of the indictment, Carcich is charged with taking $52,375 from Philip F. Sheats Associates, Inc., a direct-mail company partially owned by the Catholic order. Carcich earned consultant fees from the firm in exchange for acting as a "marketing representive," it has been reported.
The priest also diverted $7,925 in real estate commissions, according to the indictment, which does not name the source of the funds. Carcich held real estate licenses in Florida and Maryland. In Maryland, he was licensed to sell real estate for Hess's insurance company.
For his own use, Carcich allegedly took $30,000 in cash from Pallottine bank accounts, monthly payments totaling $10,000 and five additional payments adding up to $100,000.
The grand jury said Carcich embezzled another $1,378,117 during is official duties, but it is nuclear where the money ended up.
Two obstruction of justice charges resulted from the grand jury conclusion that Carcich "secreted and concealed" from the panel records of four firms, despite the fact that he was ordered to produce all documents involving Pallottine transactions.
The missing records, according to the indictment, included bank records that would have disclosed hidden accounts totaling more than $15 million in Pallottine-raised money.
The indictment does not elaborate on how the money in the hidden bank accounts is being used.
Maryland Attorney General Francis B. Burch, whose office steered the investigation, said he will ask the next empaneled city grand jury to look into "other major areas" that could result in additional criminal charges against Carcich and other figures.
"Because of the extraordinary length of service and depleted numbers of the special grand jury," Burch said in a prepared statment, "it could not be expected that it could indefinitely carry on the other areas of investigation."
In Baltimore, Joseph M. More, attorney for the Pallottines, issued a statement in which Carcich's superior, the Rev. Domenick T. Graziadio expressed sympathy for the "great personal tragedy" facing Carcich.
"I do not believe he has committed any crime," Graziadio said in the prepared statement. He praised Carcich for his "untiring efforts" that raised "million of dollars" for Pallottine causes.
Archbishop William Borders of Baltimore, who 18 months ago indefinitely barred Father Carcich from all priestly duties in the archdiocese, was out of the country yesterday.
In his absence, Bishop T. Austin Murphy, vicar general of the archdiocese, declined to discuss the charges. However, Bishop Murphy said, "I cannot help but feel that there is a certain sadness within the Church of Baltimore today - a sadness because there are indictments which say that monies donated by so many people have been misused."
The formal name of the Pallottines is the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. The order, which has more than 2,000 members in 25 nations, was founded in Rome in 1835 by St. Vincent Pallotti. In its early years in the United States, it was known for ministering to immigrant groups, particularly of Italian origin.
From its sophisticated mail order operation located in a Baltimore warehouse, the order sends out millions of emotional fund-raising appeals each year, asking for help for the starving, poor and unclothed of the world.