Former Belmont County attorney sentenced to 5 years in prison for stealing more than $800,000 from elderly victim with dementia
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The former comptroller of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville was sentenced in federal court in Columbus today for failing to pay payroll taxes withheld from the paychecks of diocesan employees, filing false tax returns and embezzling $299,500 in diocesan funds between 2008 and 2017.
David A. Franklin, 67, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in July 2020 to one count of willful failure to account for and pay over employment tax, one count of making a false income tax return and one count of wire fraud. Today Franklin was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and two years of supervised release, and was also ordered to pay $1,332,885.04 in restitution.
According to court documents, from 2004 through 2016, Franklin caused payroll taxes to be withheld from employee paychecks for the Diocese of Steubenville and the Office of Social Ministry (a social services and charitable nonprofit in the Diocese), but did not pay the withheld funds over to the Internal Revenue Service. From 2013 through 2016, Franklin did the same thing at the Mount Calvary Cemetery Association.
As a result, the three Diocesan Entities later paid the IRS more than $2.7 million in withheld payroll taxes and the employer portion of the employment taxes that Franklin had caused not to be paid over. The Diocesan Entities also had to pay nearly $1 million in interest and penalties to the IRS that they otherwise would not have had to pay.
While he was failing to truthfully account for and pay over payroll taxes, Franklin also embezzled $299,500 from the Diocesan Entities by preparing fraudulent checks to be issued to himself. For four tax years, Franklin also filed false personal income tax returns, causing tax losses of more than $33,000.
The Court ordered Franklin to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution. Restitution will go to the Diocese of Steubenville, the Office of Social Ministry, the Mount Calvary Cemetery Association, and the IRS. Franklin was also ordered to forfeit the nearly $300,000 he embezzled.
“The Diocesan Entities provide support to individuals and families, youth educational programs, a thrift store, an emergency food bank and more,” U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said. “Franklin’s actions cost the Diocese – and the community – $1.3 million. Today’s sentence and restitution order show that, in the long run, it does not pay to cheat the government or embezzle. Not only will you be left without your criminal proceeds, you’ll spend time in prison.”
U.S. Attorney DeVillers and IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson announced the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison. Assistant United States Attorney Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Jane Hanlin are representing the United States in this case.
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