A Catholic priest has been arrested after a lavish $650,000 spending spree over 13 years – funded by money reportedly taken from the Franciscan Order.
Fr Anthony Egan was taken into custody by detectives in Dublin on Wednesday according to a report in the Irish Sun newspaper.
The paper says he was arrested on suspicion of stealing cash from the Franciscan Order in Dublin to fund his lavish lifestyle.
Police believes the priest spent the cash on hundreds of pairs of shoes and luxury trips to Paris.
They also say Fr Egan was fascinated by Monaco’s Royal family, the Grimaldis.
They believe the money was storied in multiple bank accounts by the cleric who claimed to represent the welfare of 12 priests.
When police raided his home they found a collection of recording devices and dozens of batteries.
The report says Fr Egan was previously accused by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin of posing as a psychiatrist but was acquitted in court in 2012.
Fr Egan was released without charge after questioning but a file on the theft case has been sent to Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions.
A source told the Irish Sun: “The allegation against this individual is that he misappropriated funds to lead an extravagant lifestyle.
“This allegedly included trips to the best hotels and restaurants in the French capital.
“There’s also an allegation that he enjoyed fine wine. It’s also believed that because of his fascination with the royal family in Monaco he made frequent trips to the region.
“And there’s also evidence that other trips were made to Nice and Rome.
“This is a very unusual case and the decision to charge him with the alleged offenses now rests with the DPP.”
The report adds that the priest, 58, now claims to be broke with the Church rumoured to be paying his rent at a Dublin bed and breakfast establishment.
However a spokesman for the Franciscan Order also refused to comment on the ongoing probe.
Fr Hugh McKenna said: “This individual was not a member of our organisation.
“We can’t say any more because the matter is now the subject of a garda (police) inquiry.”
The paper says the cash was allegedly taken from the order by making false claims for Mass stipends.
Under canon law, a priest is entitled to receive one stipend from the diocese from collections made during Mass. Police suspect Fr Egan lodged several claims by using the names of other priests.
He also informed Church authorities he had been making regular contributions to the Vatican Fund for priests but is suspected, instead, of taking money destined for the specialist fund launched by the Catholic Church to help priests who had fallen into financial difficulties.
Police have confirmed that none of the missing cash had been recovered.