First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

Agent Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Four Parishes in Travel Scam

A Las Vegas travel agent pleaded guilty Sept. 27 to one count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains for pocketing money he collected from four parishes in the archdiocese for a trip to World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland.

Vincent Maffucci, 77, collected more than $240,000 delivered by Federal Express and the U.S. Postal Service, withdrew $220,000 for his personal use and later canceled the trip to Poland.

His sentencing is scheduled Jan. 4, 2018.

Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, told CNY that St. Patrick, Yorktown Heights; St. Theresa, Briarcliff Manor, and its mission, Our Lady of the Wayside, Millwood; St. Stanislaus Kostka, Pleasant Valley; and St. John’s, West Hurley-Woodstock, were victimized by the scam.

“Mr. Maffucci allegedly capitalized on the trust these organizations placed with him to get their youth to this faith-filled world event,” U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Phillip R. Bartlett said in a statement.

“He betrayed the trust of the faith community when he allegedly spent money to satisfy his personal needs, then lied about their refunds.”

This is not the first time Maffucci has canceled a World Youth Day trip. A sealed complaint, filed last month in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, said Maffucci cancelled a trip to World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil.

Maffucci claimed the cancellation resulted from a travel advisory due to drugs, riots and violence in Rio de Janeiro, and said he spent a significant portion of the money on deposits for the trip. Few parishes and dioceses received refunds, according to the sealed complaint.

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