Michael Gerrity went to jail for more than $250,000 embezzled two decades ago from a charity hospital near Buffalo, New York, that he runs and is affiliated with a group of Catholic nuns, according to prosecutors, who say he spent some of the money. holiday.
Today, she works for the Augustinian Catholic religious order as head of fundraising for the Chicago area.
Just last month, he hosted a benefit party at the Drake Hotel, an event which in recent years has generated an estimated $250,000 in bookings for his hires.
Gerrity, now 72, was hired by Augustinian in 2011. That was six years after she pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted capital larceny and five years after she was sentenced to several months in prison.
The allegations stem from his time as executive director of the St. Thomas Hospital Foundation. St. Joseph, a charity for medical centers in the Buffalo area founded by and long associated with Franciscan nuns. As top administrator, Gerrity has been described as the primary “face” of the foundation, raising money to purchase items such as hospital equipment to improve patient care.
But Gerrity, who has taught classes and written books on philanthropy, admitted she “raised” about $250,000 from the foundation and agreed to pay it back, court records show. He also admitted that he “raised” $15,000 or more from other Catholic hospice groups.
One prosecutor said in 2005 that Gerrity's spending “had no legitimate underlying purpose” and that “the most blatant thing that came to mind was a paid start-to-finish private vacation,” reported the Buffalo News.
Gerrity also used foundation money to make political contributions to Republican campaign committees, according to a note from the Erie County, NY, attorney's office that said her guilt extended from 1999 to 2004.
He was fired that May, according to the Buffalo News, “after auditors found he illegally used a foundation credit card to pay for personal and vacation items and to recoup improper personal expenses.”
Announcing Gerrity's hiring as “director of progress,” a 2012 Augustinian newsletter pointed to her 27 years of fundraising experience “for religious orders, high schools, hospitals, universities, and foreign missions.”
Pastor Anthony Pizzo runs the order in the province of the Midwest, headquartered on the Far Southwest Side. Pizzo, whose order oversees St. Rita on the South Side and Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, said Gerrity came “on the highest recommendation from many distinguished people who worked with her.
“At the time of his employment, Michael fully disclosed his financial misconduct dating back to 2004,” Pizzo said in a written statement. “In addition, the province conducted a comprehensive background check on Mr Gerrity and conducted due diligence before we offered him the job. Since joining the Midwest Augustinian, he has done exemplary work for us and has lived up to his credentials.”
A person who has worked on Catholic fundraisers in the Chicago area and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity said the background of anyone involved matters because “trust is at the heart of fundraising, trust is at the heart of philanthropy.”
Pizzo said the Augustinian attitude toward Gerrity was rooted in the teachings of Jesus.
“Disciples of Jesus Christ in the Catholic tradition, the Augustinians tried to follow the words and imitate the actions of Jesus,” he said. “We remember Jesus' reaction to the woman who was caught in adultery, ‘Hasn't anyone punished you? I'm not punishing you either. Go and sin no more.'
“Mr. Gerrity's past is her past. Nearly 20 years ago, she was prosecuted under the law, served her sentence and received full compensation. As religious people, we strive to do more than preach compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, and a second chance.Instead, we vowed to God and each other to live it.
Asked about Gerrity, the Reverend James Halstead, provincial treasurer, told a reporter to “talk to God” and suggested consulting the “New Testament” for answers.
Reached by phone and asked about her beliefs, Gerrity said, “That's not it,” then hung up.
The Augustinian Bulletin said the money raised last year from the Drake gala “represents 20% of the Province's annual fundraising needs.”
The order declined to say where the money had gone.
Public records show Gerrity was in the process of paying back the money she took in New York, but that doesn't cover the entire period she will be making restitution payments. A spokesman for Catholic Health, the network that includes Gerrity's old hospital, would not say whether he paid back all the money.