Monday, January 27, 2003

Couple arraigned for blackmailing priest

Police said [Fr.]Ruggeri initially made contact with Dominic Martin between three and six weeks ago, via an Internet chat room or Web site, where Martin posed as a Catholic priest. The two began an online conversation that began with innocent discussions about priestly vestments but soon turned sexually explicit, police said.

Before long, Martin turned on Ruggeri, contacting him by telephone and telling him he would disclose Ruggeri's sexual writings to the Boston media if the pastor didn't come up with cash, police said.

Police suspect Ruggeri used parish money possibly funds from the collection plate as hush money to keep Martin quiet.

Ruggeri dropped the money off at a predetermined site near the 99 Restaurant in Lowell; he watched as it was picked up by a woman he later identified as Brianna Martin, police said.

Apparently not satisfied, the couple demanded more money from Ruggeri, this time telling him they would pass out copies of his sexually explicit writings at last Sunday's 11 a.m. Mass if the pastor refused. Ruggeri contacted Lowell police, and undercover detectives attended the Mass but nothing occurred, sources told The Sun.

The couple then arranged another drop off, Thursday morning in a trash can outside the same 99 Restaurant on Chelmsford Street, police said.

Ruggeri dropped off an envelope containing what the Martins believed was $800. This time, Lowell police swooped in and arrested the pair as they drove off on Industrial Avenue; the envelope actually contained $100 surrounded by blank pieces of paper, sources said.

Like I've been sayin' for months, we have two priorities in front of us:

1) Stop ordaining sexual predators

and

b) Stop ordaining idiots.





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