Monday, August 23, 2004

Controversial official gets job with diocese

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A man who resigned as chief financial officer for the Cleveland Catholic Diocese amid financial controversy has been hired to supervise the finances of the Columbus Catholic Diocese.

Joseph H. Smith, 47, of Avon Lake, near Cleveland, will become the diocese's finance director in October, said diocesan spokeswoman Robin Miller.

Smith resigned from the Cleveland diocese in February after he was accused of accepting about $750,000 from an accounting firm he hired to work for the diocese. Smith has not been charged.

Cleveland diocesan spokesman Robert Tayek said the Columbus diocese has been told that a federal investigation of Smith is continuing.

Special Agent Robert Hawk of the Cleveland FBI office would not comment on whether there is a probe of Smith.

Miller said she does not know whether the Columbus diocese was told of the allegations. She referred questions about Smith's hiring to Bishop James A. Griffin, who was attending a meeting of bishops and unavailable for comment.

Late last year, documents sent anonymously to the Cleveland diocese and a lawyer detailed how money from a Mentor accounting firm allegedly made its way into companies affiliated with Smith.

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