Las Vegas Travel Agent Scammed Catholic Parishes in New York: Prosecutors - NBC New York

Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Las Vegas Travel Agent Scammed Catholic Parishes in New York: Prosecutors

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    Las Vegas Travel Agent Scammed Catholic Parishes in New York: Prosecutors
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    A Las Vegas travel agent faces federal fraud charges for allegedly scamming 2 Catholic parishes in Westchester County out of more than $200,000 they paid to cover the costs of travel to the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland, law enforcement officials say.

    Vincent Maffucci, 77, owner of ITC Tours, was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas by U.S. Postal inspectors. He is charged with one count of mail fraud, officials say.

    Every two or three years, the Catholic Church organizes World Youth Day, an event for young people. The event is held in different global locations and is attended by young people from around the world. The 2016 World Youth Day was held in Krakow, Poland.

    Prosecutors did not identify the parishes but say they used Maffucci’s company to make travel arrangements for the trip. From March 2014 to May 2016 one parish sent Maffucci over $141,000 to cover the cost of travel for 45 parishioners. During the same period, another parish sent Maffucci almost $72,000 for travel expenses for 24 parishioners.

    In June, 2016, Maffucci informed the parishes that the trip was being cancelled due to travel advisories and terrorism, prosecutors say.

    Maffucci informed the parishes the money was in Europe and that he was attempting to get it back. He also indicated that he expected a large inheritance from which he would reimburse his clients.

    No refunds have been made, prosecutors say.

    A review of Maffucci’s bank accounts by U.S. Postal inspectors showed that from June 2014 to July 2016 he spent $43,000 from his business account on personal expenses and transferred another $83,000 from that account to his personal accounts, according to court papers. 

    In 2014 Maffucci was sued by several Catholic parishes in connection with the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, prosecutors say. In that instance, Maffucci cancelled the trip shortly before the event was to begin citing “unforeseen circumstances” such as travel advisories and riots in Rio de Janeiro. Only a few parishes received refunds for the 2013 trip, prosecutors say.

    Maffucci was expected to appear in federal court in Las Vegas later on Wednesday.

    Attorney information was not immediately available.

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