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Finance probe involving high-ranking Catholic priest continues

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 28. 2013 11:19PM


MANCHESTER — The state Attorney General's office is reviewing all accounts to which a high-ranking Catholic priest who also sat on Catholic Medical Center's board of directors had access as part of its criminal probe into alleged financial improprieties, the head of the criminal justice bureau said Wednesday.

Nearly four months since the Catholic Diocese of Manchester announced it discovered "evidence suggesting improper financial transactions" by Msgr. Edward J. Arsenault, investigators continue to conduct an active and "comprehensive" review, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane E. Young said.

"We are looking at all facets of Edward Arsenault during his tenure at the diocese, whether it be at the diocesan offices or at CMC," Young explained. Arsenault served on the CMC board of directors, resigning in 2009.

"We are looking at what I will call expenses from the diocesan accounts. also there is portion (of expenses) from Catholic Medical Center that will be part of the comprehensive review," she added.

Young could not predict when the investigation would conclude, but said her office is giving it "high priority" with one investigator almost solely devoted to it. State police and other agencies also are assisting, she said.

"We have had an ongoing dialogue with representatives from the dioceses and I can tell you the diocese has been very cooperative with this investigation," Young said. CMC also has been cooperative, she said.

The diocese on May 6 announced it received allegations of a "potentially inappropriate adult relationship" involving Arsenault, 51, earlier this year. While investigating that claim, the diocese said it discovered evidence of possible financial improprieties involving diocesan funds and reported the matter to the Attorney General's office.

Arsenault was placed on administrative leave, which bars him from presenting himself publicly as a priest, pending the outcome of the criminal probe. He remains a diocesan priest.

Arsenault also resigned his post as president and chief executive officer of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., on May 3 in light of the investigations. Arsenault held that post since October 2009.

Previously, Arsenault held many senior leadership positions in the diocese from 1999 to 2009. They included secretary for administration, chancellor, and bishop's delegate for ministerial conduct.

Young said financial cases typically are lengthy given large volumes of documents that must be gathered and reviewed.

The diocese had not comment until the Attorney General's investigation is complete.

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