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Press Release

Pennsylvania Priest Sentenced To 16+ Years In Prison For Sexually Abusing Minors

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH – A priest of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 200 months in prison followed by lifetime supervised release for offenses related to his sexual abuse of two minor boys during trips to Honduras over a five-year period, announced U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson imposed the sentence on Joseph D. Maurizio Jr., 70, of Central City, Pennsylvania. He also ordered Maurizio to pay a $50,000 fine and $10,000 in restitution to each of the two minor victims. Maurizio was convicted on Sept. 22, 2015, following an eight-day jury trial, of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, possession of child pornography and international money laundering.

“It is important to recognize the courage of the victims, the tenacity of the investigators and the resolve of the prosecutors to bring this child predator priest to justice,” stated U.S. Attorney Hickton. “This sentence ensures that Joseph Maurizio will never again have the opportunity to travel beyond our nation’s borders to victimize children.”

“Child sex tourism is a scourge: adults preying on the young and vulnerable to satisfy dark desires,” said David Abbate, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, ICE Homeland Security Investigations. “As an agency, HSI is committed to the difficult but necessary task of ending this scourge--despite cost, distance, and international boundaries. There can be no place for the abuse of children here or abroad.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation will diligently work with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who violate the laws of the United States,” added IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner. “Our partnership with HSI in this investigation demonstrates that we will work together to address the full scope of an individual’s illegal activity, and we will follow that trail wherever it may lead us.”

According to the evidence introduced at trial, in 2001 Maurizio created a charitable organization, then known as Honduras Interfaith Ministries (HIM), which was funded by donations from community members, including parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Central City. HIM became the largest donor for Pro Niño, a non-profit organization that provided shelter and rehabilitative services to poor, abandoned and at-risk children residing in a rural town near San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Between 2004 and 2009, Maurizio used HIM moneys to fund 13 separate trips between the United States and Honduras, during which he sexually abused two minor boys living at Pro Niño shelters.

Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Maurizio used his position with HIM, Pro Niño’s largest donor, to gain unfettered access to the minors, as well as to purchase them gifts, including clothes, shoes and jewelry, in order to build the boys’ trust and to ensure their compliance during his sexual abuse. During his final trip to Honduras, Maurizio paid two minor boys to engage in sexual acts with him.

In addition, trial evidence showed that Maurizio kept digital media depicting the minors he sexually abused and other images of child sexual exploitation in the Our Lady Queen of Angels Church rectory.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Pittsburgh investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Haines of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Amy E. Larson of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated March 3, 2016

Project Safe Childhood