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Here are five things you need to know about crime in Westchester County. Video by Jordan Fenster/lohud
Wochit

Four Catholic parishes in Westchester, Dutchess and Ulster counties were victims of an alleged scam run by a Las Vegas travel agent.

St. Patrick’s Church in Yorktown Heights and the Parish of St. Theresa and Our Lady of the Wayside Parish in Briarcliff Manor were the two Westchester churches that were impacted, along with St. Stanislaus Kostka in Pleasant Valley and St. John’s Parish in Woodstock, according to Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.

CHARGES: Feds: Vegas travel agent cheated Westchester churches out of $200K

The federal complaint said two Westchester churches lost $240,000 as part of the alleged scam and said “several” others were impacted but didn’t list the churches or the amounts involved. 

The travel agent, 77-year-old Vincent Maffucci, was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday and charged with one count of mail fraud, which is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. 

The money Maffucci allegedly collected was supposed to pay for summer 2016 travel plans to Poland for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day.

Instead, he allegedly pocketed $227,000, said the trip was canceled because of travel advisories and terrorism, and said he was expecting a large inheritiance which he would use to pay back the churches, according to the federal complaint. 

To date, none of the churches were paid back, prosecutors said. 

“We were trusting this person,” said Kevin Richards, religious education coordinator at St. Theresa in Briarcliff Manor. “Even after the trip was cancelled, the different emails saying, ‘Okay, we’re in the process still of gathering all the money to give refunds.’ It just sort of dragged out in that way.”

“The deeper we got into it we had that realization that this just seemed like something that was fraud,” Richards added. “It’s disconcerting and just upsetting, specially to a lot of the children who were all set to go and had done so much work.” 

He would not say how much the parish lost, but said it was significantly less than the other parishes affected by the scheme. 

Twitter: @ChrisEberhart2