A former top Manchester diocese official has been ordered to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars to the church and other organizations in a plea deal reached this morning.
Msgr. Edward Arsenault will also serve at least four years in prison.
Appearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester Wednesday morning, Arsenault pled guilty to three felony charges and apologized for his actions.
As part of the deal, Arsenault must pay restitution on the order of $184,000 the Diocese of Manchester and $104,000 to Catholic Medical Center.
Arsenault was chancellor at the Manchester Diocese from 1999 through 2009.
It was in May of last year when prosecutors first announced an investigation into allegations that Arsenault misused church funds and had an improper adult relationship.
He promptly resigned as President of the St. Luke Institute, a priest treatment center in Maryland.
Prosecutors say it was between 2005 and March of 2012 when Arsenault stole from the Manchester diocese, CMC and the estate of another priest.
Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, released the following statement:
“This is indeed a sad day. Foremost on my mind are the more than 275,000 Catholic faithful in our state. Every week, parishioners freely give their funds to support the mission of the Church to worship, evangelize, and serve the poor and vulnerable. They place their trust and confidence in the Church that these contributions will be safeguarded and used for its good works.
“Msgr. Arsenault’s criminal actions profoundly betrayed this trust and confidence by diverting substantial amounts of diocesan funds for personal use. While the sentence imposed by the court today includes restitution, the loss of diocesan funds is not the full measure of the damage that has been done. Many of the faithful and former co-workers inevitably will be left with a profound sense of betrayal and mistrust. They are very much the victims here.
Read reporter Mark Hayward's story here