Bronx priest steps down after allegations of stealing money for drug-fueled lifestyle

THROGGS NECK, Bronx (WABC) -- After morning mass, Timothy Cardinal Dolan addressed allegations that are tearing a Throggs Neck parish apart - not by worshipers, but by the man who once led them - Father Peter Miqueli.

"We're dealing with a lot of innuendo, a lot of rumors, a lot of gossip - what we have to deal with is the truth," Cardinal Dolan said.

Frustration is felt by many at St. Frances de Chantal Church and so as not to be a distraction, Miqueli abruptly resigned this weekend by voluntarily stepped down from his post. Just days ago, parishioners sued the embattled priest for allegedly stealing roughly $1 million from St. Frances and his prior church on Roosevelt Island.

One woman claims she has proof that Miqueli used part of the cash to buy a home in New Jersey, and to fund a drug-fueled lifestyle for him and his alleged boyfriend.

Cardinal Dolan tells Eyewitness News that he forwarded the emails from the accused to the Bronx District Attorney.

"They are lured, terrible - now when I read them about three months ago, it was she saying 'this is what I'm telling you, I have photographs, I have evidence - and I said, 'oh, I'm glad, please come in and give them to me and to the police, and she didn't'," Cardinal Dolan said.

The Archdiocese of New York was also named in the lawsuit, is investigating all of this, and says so far it has found no evidence of embezzlement.

The District Attorney's office tells Eyewitness News that it has been tracking things and is waiting for the Archdiocese to complete its financial audit.
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