Priest Claiming Blackmail Now Faces Theft Charge

By James F. McCarty
Cleveland Plain Dealer [Ohio]
August 9, 2006

A priest in Warrensville Heights who accused two women of hooking him in a blackmail scheme now has criminal problems of his own.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted the Rev. Tom Carolan last month on a theft charge.

Police and prosecutors say he paid his blackmailers with money stolen from St. Jude Parish on Richmond Road.

Carolan, 74, pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday in Common Pleas Court.

Defense lawyer Ian Friedman said he would work with prosecutors to resolve the case.

"The co-defendants certainly took advantage of a 74-year-old man," Friedman said.

Carolan's problems began this year after he had sex with a woman. The priest told police that Elaine Presser, 47, of Mayfield, and her sister, Rosemarie Kovacic, 46, of Mayfield Heights, and Leonard Goldberg, 53, of Willoughby, demanded money in exchange for their silence.

Presser is the daughter-in-law of the late Teamsters President Jackie Presser. She has nearly a half-dozen criminal convictions for thefts and writing bad checks.

Carolan blew the whistle to police after he discovered someone had stolen checks from St. Jude.

Investigators suspect Carolan stole between $500 and $5,000 from the church's accounts to pay the blackmailers, who are charged with theft, extortion and forgery.

Their trial is scheduled for Sept. 20.

Carolan, a Franciscan who had served at St. Jude for 16 years, resigned his position at the parish. He is being treated for several unspecified medical conditions at a hospital in Illinois, Friedman said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4153


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