Newport Priest Runs Ponzi Scheme

During the term of Chancery Court of Campbell County, Kentucky, which will commence in Newport on next Wednesday, an interesting case will be called up.  In it is involved the very large estate of a Catholic priest, who, it is alleged, has betrayed trusts reposed in him by members of his fold.  Rev. Father Patrick Guilfoyle was for a number of years engaged as Pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Newport. 

The story goes that from time to time members of his church placed in his hands for safekeeping, sums of money, for which he gave simple receipts, individual due-bills, notes of time bearing interest, and other and better securities.  The money in his hands Father Guilfoyle invested in real estate and in the building of residences.  In the matter of improvement he did a good thing for Newport.  He put up over three hundred dwelling houses, which he rented out and sold to persons on long time and easy payments, taking mortgages on the premises.  At one time, not long ago, it is said that Father Guilfoyle was worth more than four hundred thousand dollars.  He was not a miser, but laid out his funds in lots and houses, which he could well afford to do, as he was using other people’s money. 

At length, embarrassment overtook the enterprising man.  Some of his creditors became suspicious, and pressed their claims for what was owing to them.  The other creditors took the alarm, and the reverend Father was besieged by a mob, clamorous for their money.  He could not meet the demand, and resorted to the usual course – made an assignment for the benefit of creditors.  On the 18th of last August was filed, with Capt. Ed. Air, Clerk of Campbell County, Father Guilfoyle’s deed of assignment to Augustus Toebbe, of Covington.  The deed is a very long instrument and includes all of Father Guilfoyle’s property, except what is by common law exempt from execution. It takes in all of the Covington real property.  Augustus Toebbe, the assignee, has filed a petition in court against the estate for the purpose of obtaining an order for its sale and settlement of accounts.  Among other defendants in the suit are five building and loan associations of Newport, and one of Cincinnati.  The plaintiff avers that the indebtedness of the estate is nearly $350,000.  The personal property is inadequate to pay this.  Upon the real estate, amounting to $300,000 in value, are liens to the amount of $100,000.  By the sale of the property, it is alleged, enough would be realized to satisfy all creditors and leave a residue, but it is the common supposition that a great many of the creditors, whose security is not first-rate, will be left to whistle for their hard-earned savings, put into the hands of the priest for safe-keeping, and which he did keep.  In the list of creditors are laboring men and poor washerwomen.  These are the persons who will suffer the most.  

Some weeks after the deed of assignment was filed, Father Guilfoyle disappeared from Newport. It is reported that he is now the pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Chicago, but designs coming soon to Cincinnati to take charge of a church.  In addition to the petition of the assignee, suits have been entered for the foreclosure of 120 mortgages held by various persons on Guilfoyle’s property to satisfy claims on him.


From the Cincinnati Commercial of January 15, 1875, as reprinted in the New York Times of January 18, 1875