This is horrific. From the St. Catherine Standard.
Extorting $90,000 from priest earns jail time for Niagara man
By Peter Downs, Standard Staff
Updated 3 days ago
A Niagara Falls man who preyed on a Catholic priest’s fear of being falsely accused as a sexual predator will spend another eight months behind bars.
Robert Sammut, 46, was sentenced to 18 months in jail Monday in St. Catharines court. He has been in custody since his arrest last November.
An admitted long-time drug addict with more than 30 previous convictions on his record, Sammut pleaded guilty June 27 to extorting approximately $90,000 from a Niagara Falls priest.
Court previously heard Sammut didn’t know the priest, who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban, when he first approached him for money in the fall of 2009.
The priest gave him $30 after Sammut said he needed cash to help support his kids and also owed money to people who would hurt him if he didn’t pay up.
Court was told Sammut began approaching the priest regularly for handouts and eventually threatened him. By January 2010, he told the priest that if he didn’t give him cash, he would tell the police and the media he had been sexually abused by the priest.
Fearing his reputation would be ruined by the groundless allegation, the priest handed over dozens of payments of $150 to $200 over several months, court heard.
“In order to compel the priest’s generosity, he threatened the priest to come forward with false charges,” Judge Joseph Nadel said.
“Given the glut of fallen priests who have fallen prey to these venal acts, this priest feared he would be painted with their brush.”
The priest only went to police to tell them of the extortion after he had wiped out his personal savings, maxed out his credit cards and borrowed money from friends and the church to give to Sammut.
What. A. Nightmare.