- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

LOUISA, Va. — The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis entered a plea of not guilty yesterday to 13 counts of embezzlement.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond has said Father Rodis, 50, embezzled more than $600,000 from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, in Bumpass, and St. Jude Church, in Mineral. He was pastor of the churches from 1993 until his retirement in May 2006.

Several parishioners who attended the hearing bowed their heads, and one woman let out a heavy sigh.

In addition to being suspected of the stealing donations, Father Rodis also purportedly led a double life as a family man.

Father Rodis yesterday waived his right to a jury trial. Louisa County Circuit Judge Timothy Sanner set trial for Oct. 1. If convicted, Father Rodis could face as much as 20 years in prison on each count.

Judge Sanner also set bond at $25,000. Father Rodis has been free on the $10,000 bond he posted on the initial count of embezzlement. Defense attorney Jack Maus expects that his client will be able to post the $25,000 bond, which covers all 13 counts.

A few of the nearly two dozen parishioners who attended the hearing briefly met Father Rodis’ gaze as he shuffled into the courtroom with the help of a cane. The rest looked away.

Outside of court after the arraignment, Father Rodis just shook his head when asked whether he had any comment.

“I like to believe he’s not guilty, but we’ll see what the trial brings out,” said St. Jude parishioner Cesar Rodriguez, who has known Father Rodis for 13 years. “I’m saddened by the fact that he did this — appalled that he destroyed his name. If he needed the money, he could have just asked.”

Authorities charged that Father Rodis opened an account in a church’s name at a bank in Fredericksburg, deposited donations in the account, then diverted them for personal use.

Court records show that police seized bank records and other items from his home, including a receipt for Lucky Money dated May 24, 2006. Lucky Money Inc. is a service for wiring money to the Philippines, Father Rodis’ home country.

The diocese said it became aware of financial irregularities in the fall when a donor to Immaculate Conception requested verification of a $1,000 contribution for tax purposes and the parish could not find a record of the donation.

The ensuing investigation also uncovered court records listing Father Rodis and Joyce Sillador-Rodis as husband and wife on a deed of trust for a mortgage on a house they shared with three children in Spotsylvania County.

Father Rodis has denied being married to the woman, though neighbors say he has referred to her as his wife for the past decade.

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