Poker-playing N.J. priest jailed on child-porn charges

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — A fugitive Catholic priest and nationally ranked poker player wanted on dozens of child-pornography-related charges in Pennsylvania is now in a New Jersey jail.

Kevin A. Gugliotta, 54, of Totowa, N.J., who was arrested Oct. 21, has been removed from his ministry at Holy Spirit Church in Union, N.J., officials with the Archdiocese of Newark confirmed Wednesday.

A criminal docket from a Wayne County, Pa., magisterial court listed 20 allegations against Gugliotta of possessing or viewing child pornography and 20 more of disseminating photographs or video of child sex acts. According to court records, all 40 alleged offenses occurred July 9.

Prosecutors in Pennsylvania said that Gugliotta is in jail awaiting extradition out of New Jersey.

The investigation began Aug. 9, when a Monroe County, Pa., detective received a report that, one month earlier, "someone uploaded an image of child pornography to a chat room on the Internet" from Gugliotta's Internet protocol (IP) address, according to a statement from Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards' office. "Several other reports were received that numerous other images of child pornography were being uploaded from that same IP address."

Police searched Gugliotta's Lehigh Township, Pa., home on Sept. 29, but neither Gugliotta nor the computer were there.

"A neighbor told the officers that Gugliotta was a priest that resides in New Jersey and that he only stays at the Wayne County residence a few times a week," Edwards wrote.

Later that day upon finding out Gugliotta worked at Holy Spirit, detectives called him. He "stated that he was unable to come back to Pennsylvania until the following Monday because those were his scheduled days off. He described the Wayne County residence as his 'day off place' where he goes on his time off," Edwards said.

Pennsylvania detectives went to Union, along with detectives from the Union County Prosecutor's Office, to interview Gugliotta, Edwards said.

Edwards approved criminal charges Oct. 20 and Magisterial District Judge Bonnie Carney signed off on an arrest warrant the same day, according to the announcement. Later that night, Toms River, N.J., police arrested Gugliotta at a township home.

Gugliotta is not facing any charges in New Jersey, other than being a fugitive from justice, said Ralph Stocco, spokesman for the Toms River Police Department.

"We have removed Gugliotta from ministry the day we found out about the expected charges earlier this month," Jim Goodness, a communications director for the archdiocese, initially said Wednesday.

The archdiocese released a more detailed statement later in the day, explaining that Gugliotta has a vacation home in Pennsylvania and that the charges indicated he had used his personal laptop.

"There are no allegations that he may have engaged in similar activities in New Jersey," Goodness wrote.

"The Archdiocese has maintained regular contact with the authorities in Pennsylvania while this matter has developed, but deferred making any premature statement about Father Gugliotta so as not to affect or interfere in any way with the actions of law enforcement," Goodness continued.

According to online poker database The Hendon Mob, Gugliotta won hundreds of thousands of dollars playing poker.

Gugliotta is ranked 4,192 on the United States All Time Money List and 193 on the state's All Time Money List, according to the same database.

Administrators at Holy Spirit Church were not available for comment Tuesday.

Gugliotta was a recent transfer to Holy Spirit. His LinkedIn page indicates he worked at Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mahwah, N.J., for 16 months, ending in August. Before working at Immaculate Conception he studied for a doctorate degree in education at Creighton University in Omaha.

Before grad school, Gugliotta served eight years at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Scotch Plains, N.J., according to fliers from that parish.

Gugliotta's attorney, James Alan Swetz, was not available Tuesday and has not returned requests for comment.

"This is a serious and difficult matter that must proceed, as required, through the court process of the state of Pennsylvania," Goodness said. "As a result, the Archdiocese is not in a position to discuss the details of Father Gugliotta's situation at this time."

Follow Alex N. Gecan on Twitter: @GeeksterTweets


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories