BRICK - A Catholic priest who lives at the Jersey Shore is accused by his Bronx parishioners of stealing $1 million from the church collections.
The lawsuit was filed against Father Peter Miqueli, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York. It alleges that Miqueli has been stealing money from the collections of at St. Frances De Chantal in the Bronx since 2003 and used the money for sexual trysts with his housemate Keith Crist.
Miqueli and Crist live together in a home in Brick Township, according to his neighbors. He paid more than $260,000 cash for the home six years ago. The lawsuit raises questions about whether it was paid for with stolen money from the Bronx church and his former parish in Roosevelt Island.
Joe Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York, says that officials have taken allegations from parishioners seriously and have launched an audit. However he does question the allegations.
“You can allege things, but when you ask for proof, we don’t get it,” Zwilling says. “We’ve covered up nothing. From the very beginning we’ve taken these allegation seriously.
However the parishioners’ attorney Michael Dowd says that he has evidence that will support the allegations.
"My answer to [the Archdiocese] is, they're lying,” he says.
Dowd showed off a check for $14,000 Miqueli wrote to himself and a bank statement worth over $400,000 dollars.
A spokesperson for the Bronx District Attorney’s office tells News 12 New Jersey that they are also aware of the allegations and are waiting for the results of the audit from the Archdiocese of New York before determining if there was any criminal activity.
Parishioners in the Bronx say that the priest didn't let anybody else handle cash donations and took security cameras down in the church.