“Father Sam” is a free man.
A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said inmate No. 56055-060 was released Friday morning from a minimum-security federal facility in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Rev. Samuel R. Ciccolini, a well-known Roman Catholic priest from Akron, received that inmate number in late October, when he checked in to serve a six-month sentence for cheating on his taxes and committing bank fraud in 2003.
Ciccolini also admitted to embezzling $1.28 million from the Interval Brotherhood Home Foundation, but paid it back, when he was being investigated by federal authorities. He was never charged with theft.
A subsequent independent audit of the residential drug and alcohol treatment center found no misappropriation of public funds nor any fraud.
Ciccolini could not be reached for comment Friday.
The 70-year-old priest founded IBH in 1970 in Coventry Township. He headed the facility until retiring in December 2010, amid his legal woes. He initially stepped away from his post as executive director in July 2010, but continued as a counselor until his retirement.
Online state records show that Ciccolini’s two-year license as a supervising professional clinical counselor expired March 17, 2012, and that he did not renew it, making him ineligible to practice as a counselor in Ohio. His license had been suspended for six months after he pleaded guilty to the income tax crimes. That suspension ended July 20, 2010.
As a priest, Ciccolini is prohibited from public ministry (saying Mass, hearing confessions) in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. His technical status with the diocese is priest “awaiting assignment.”
Robert Tayek, spokesman for the diocese, said Bishop Richard G. Lennon will meet with his advisers to determine the status of Ciccolini now that he has been released from prison. Pending a decision, Ciccolini is permitted to return to his residence at Immaculate Conception in Akron.
The Rev. Michael B. Smith, pastor at Immaculate Conception, said he will welcome Ciccolini back and awaits the bishop’s decision on his assignment.
“It’s over — at least the incarceration is — and we’re all glad about that,” Smith said Friday. “He has satisfied his responsibility to the court. Now it’s up to the bishop to determine where he goes from here.”
Previous efforts to assign Ciccolini were thwarted because a felony conviction prohibits him from employment at facilities that receive public money.
Ciccolini is five years away from the Cleveland diocese’s retirement age for priests of 75 years old, but a priest can apply for early retirement.
His arrest in 2010 and the release of information that he had personal funds of more than $5 million shocked many in the community.
He and federal prosecutors both appealed his original sentence of one day in jail, a $350,000 fine and the payment of $3.5 million in restitution to the Interval Brotherhood Home Foundation, the agency’s fundraising arm.
In the end, Ciccolini was sentenced to six months in prison and fined more than $830,000 for banking and personal income tax crimes.
The banking charge against Ciccolini came after he made 139 individual bank deposits of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements in 2003, authorities said. The tax violation was linked to a false tax return in 2004, but the priest admitted that other years were inaccurate, too.
The U.S. Justice Department in March denied the Akron Beacon Journal’s public request to examine the records in Ciccolini’s case. The newspaper sought the information to help with unanswered questions, like why the priest was investigated and why he was charged seven years after the crimes were committed.
The newspaper is appealing the denial.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or email@example.com. She can be followed at https://twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.