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January 14, 2009

A Philippino priest, an angry jury and a state judge meet at a white-collar sentencing

Though the title of this post might make a good opening line to some kind of bizarre joke, it actually provides the backstory for this interesting local story about a state judge imposing a sentence way below what a state jury had recommended.  Here are the details:

Former Catholic priest Rodney L. Rodis was sentenced yesterday to serve a prison sentence much shorter than the 200 years that a Louisa County jury recommended.  Yesterday, Judge Timothy K. Sanner, suspended 187 of the 200 years the jury wanted after it found the 52-year-old Rodis guilty of 10 counts of embezzlement from two Louisa churches.  The suspended sentence is contingent on Rodis paying back more than $400,000 in restitution to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

But Sanner said in court yesterday, that he never actually expects Rodis to repay the money he took because the former priest will be deported to the Philippines, his home country, after his release from prison. Sanner said this was the first time he reduced a jury’s recommendation.  The 200-year sentence was the maximum the jury could have recommended on the 10 convictions.

Rodis’ 13-year active sentence for the Louisa convictions will start after he finishes his current sentence in federal prison. Last spring, Rodis pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of money laundering and wire fraud in connection to the long-term theft of money from St. Jude and Immaculate Conception churches in Louisa. He was sentenced to serve five years on those charges.

Louisa Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire said yesterday that authorities still believe Rodis stole as much as $1 million in the 13 years he served as the leader for the two churches.  After yesterday’s formal sentencing, McGuire said he never expected Sanner to uphold the jury’s recommendation because it was so extreme. In court, Sanner said he felt the jury was persuaded to sentence Rodis to such a large amount of time after members of the church spoke out against their former pastor at his October hearing.

January 14, 2009 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

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