Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Man to Serve 51 Months for Defrauding Catholic Schools

MANHATTAN (CN) - Construction consultant David Murphy, convicted of defrauding two Catholic elementary schools of more than $248,000, was sentenced to more than 4 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan said the money belonged to Archdiocese Building Commission, Murphy's employer.

During the nearly 3-hour hearing, Murphy, 71, maintained his innocence and claimed the charges were a conspiracy against him, while the judge said he was "among the most dishonest" defendants he had ever sentenced.

Murphy said he earned the money, saved the schools from abandonment, and helped more than 1,000 students in a depressed area of the South Bronx.

Carl Cannizzaro, the engineer of the schools, St. Anselm and St. Athanasius, attended the hearings to echo Murphy's defense.

"If he was not there, I am 99.9 percent certain these schools would have been in an abandoned state today," Cannizzaro said.

Murphy's attorney, Lori Levinson, filed an eleventh hour appeal motion on Saturday arguing that new forensic analysis exonerated him.

Judge Sullivan denied the motion as untimely and unconvincing, and blasted Murphy for "utter contempt for the court, the truth, and the jury" in how he articulated his defense throughout his case.

Prosecutor Peter Skinner said Murphy embellished his education and work history, lied to government officials, perjured himself repeatedly in his defense and generally "had serious issues with truth."

In July, the first jury Murphy faced became deadlocked 9-to-3 in favor of an acquittal, and a mistrial was declared. A defense sentencing memo says that several jurors "expressed concerns about the truthfulness of several of the government's witnesses."

The government demanded a new trial, adding a count of obstruction of justice based partly on statements Murphy made the first time he took the witness stand. A jury unanimously found him guilty of both counts in October.

Murphy appealed his conviction on Feb. 26, in a document arguing that a forensic analyst he hired proved that he did not alter the dates on emails showing that he billed for his hours.

Although Judge Sullivan said did not believe the analysis would have changed the trial, he added that the emails on which the forensic evidence was based were previously available, rendering moot the argument for a retrial based on new evidence.

Levinson said letters from Murphy's family showed that he did not fit the prosecutors' description of a "pathological liar." She added that a greater waste of public funds would be incarcerating the elderly man at a taxpayer cost of more than $2,000 per month.

Murphy did not apologize because he earned his money by putting in 15-hour days, seven-days a week to do finish his commissioned schools on time, Levinson said.

Judge Sullivan questioned her math, saying that it was difficult to believe Murphy kept those hours with a 2 ½-hour commute from Springfield, Mass.

Even if Murphy worked those hours, Sullivan added, it did not justify giving himself the salary he thought he deserved.

The judge and prosecutor agreed that, as public servants, they were affronted by the idea that Murphy could pay himself an extra $248,000 for working long hours during two summers.

In his prepared remarks, Murphy said he only broke the law by driving faster than the speed limit, and he started to cry when talking about the prosecutor's statement that he stole from the children.

"That one hurts the most," Murphy said.

Judge Sullivan blasted Murphy for keeping a "very stubborn belief in your entitlement to this money," and said Murphy's allegations of a "calculated conspiracy to convict an innocent man" were "outrageous" and "libelous."

Sullivan said he would have been inclined to be moved by Murphy's age, poor health, and supportive family, if not for his "bold and destructive willingness" to lie.

Murphy said he would appeal the sentence.

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