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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 5, 2019

United States Attorney McSwain Announces Arrest of Former Catholic Priest on False Statement Charges

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Robert Brennan, 81, of Perryville, MD, was arrested and charged by Indictment with four counts of making materially false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United States government.

The Indictment alleges that on or about April 25, 2019, Brennan was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and made a number of false statements to the investigating agents.  Brennan had served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1993 to 2004 as a priest at Resurrection of Our Lord parish (“Resurrection”).  In September 2013, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against him, alleging that he had sexually abused a minor, Sean McIlmail, during Brennan’s time at Resurrection.  Soon thereafter, on or about October 13, 2013, Sean McIlmail died of a drug overdose and the criminal charges against Brennan were dismissed.

In November 2013, the McIlmail family filed a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Brennan.  The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount on or about May 2, 2018.

During the April 25, 2019 interview with the FBI, Brennan made several allegedly false statements that prior to the filing of the 2013 criminal case and civil lawsuit against him, he did not know Sean McIlmail, his father, mother or brother.  Brennan was arrested in Maryland this morning and is being transported to Philadelphia for his initial appearance in federal court today at 1:30 p.m.

“Making false statements to the FBI is a serious crime, and given the circumstances, the alleged false statements here are particularly disturbing,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “We will use all of the tools at our disposal to hold this defendant accountable for his alleged actions.”

“The defendant allegedly lied to the FBI to obstruct an investigation into complaints that he sexually abused a child while serving as a priest,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “I’m proud to work with our federal partners to hold him accountable. Our Office will investigate and prosecute anyone who abuses children, takes advantage of their position of power, or gives false statements to law enforcement, no matter who they are.”

 “Lying to federal agents threatens the integrity of our justice system,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “That’s precisely why it’s a crime. The FBI can't properly carry out investigations, if the people we interview think they can deceive us without consequence.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 32 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and 3 years’ supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle L. Morgan.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Contact: 
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19106 JENNIFER CRANDALL Media Contact 215-861-8300 If you have not done so already, follow @USAO_EDPA and @USAttyMcSwain to get the most up-to-date information about big cases and community news.
Updated September 5, 2019