The U.S. Department of Justice has denied a public records request by the Akron Beacon Journal to review court and investigatory records regarding the arrest and conviction of the Rev. Samuel Ciccolini.
The release of the records “would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and would be in violation of the Privacy Act,” the department wrote in a letter dated March 8.
The letter goes on to say that court records are available to the public and another request could be filed to see those.
The newspaper had sought last year to examine the records through the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland, but was later instructed to file a Freedom of Information Act request through the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
The newspaper is appealing the March 8 denial.
Ciccolini, a well-known Catholic priest from Akron, is serving a six-month sentence in federal prison for cheating on his taxes and committing banking fraud in 2003. He also embezzled $1.28 million from the Interval Brotherhood Home Foundation, but paid it back when he was being investigated and was never charged with theft.
There remain many unanswered questions in the case. For example, authorities have never said why they started investigating the priest and why he was charged seven years after the crimes were committed.
Ciccolini, 70, best known in the community as “Father Sam,” was sentenced last fall.
He ran the Interval Brotherhood Home, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Coventry Township, for decades. He was a high-profile figure in Akron whose fame extended well outside the region.
His arrest in 2010 revealed that he had amassed a personal fortune of more than $5 million.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined comment.