- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2008


LOUISA, Va. | A retired Roman Catholic priest who prosecutors said stole more than $1 million from two rural Virginia churches was convicted on 10 embezzlement counts.

Jurors who needed less than one hour Thursday to convict Rodney Rodis, 52, recommended that he serve the maximum of 200 years in prison. Formal sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 14.

Rodis is already serving a 63-month federal term for embezzling from his parishioners at St. Jude and Immaculate Conception Catholic churches. Many of his former flock were unhappy with the federal sentence and sought his prosecution on state charges.

According to testimony at his state trial, Rodis said he stole the money to help his family and others in his native Philippines.

“There’s a lot of people back in my country that need help from me,” Rodis testified.

But Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas A. Garrett Jr. said that Rodis invested in properties in his native country, including an upscale waterfront property.

Several parishioners testified that their faith was shaken by Rodis’ violation of trust.

“He’s the biggest con man. Everything he says, you can’t believe,” said former St. Jude parishioner Kathleen Pfeiffer. “It’s like a family member violating you.”

Rodis also had a wife and three children, said Rusty McGuire, a deputy prosecutor in Louisa County. He was married in 1987 and lived in Fredericksburg with his family, violating his church vow of celibacy.

Mr. McGuire told jurors in his closing arguments that the case was “about a shepherd who betrayed his flock.”

Although his federal sentencing required that he make restitution, “he hasn’t paid one dime,” Mr. McGuire said Friday.

Defense attorney John R. “Jack” Maus asked the jury to consider Rodis’ health troubles, including prostate cancer and a stroke that he suffered in 2005.

But Mr. Garrett said, “Rodney Rodis deserves to die in prison.”

Rodis retired as pastor of both churches in May 2006 for health reasons.

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