April 20, 2005

Lawyer: Ex-lover extorted N.J. priest


Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff
A Roman Catholic priest under investigation for allegedly embezzling money from his Randolph parish claims a man with whom he had sex more than 25 years ago has been extorting money from him ever since, his attorney said yesterday.

The Morris County Prosecutor's Office last month tracked drifter Harold Reid, 46, to Los Angeles, where he collected recyclable bottles and cans for a living, and charged him with attempted extortion of the Rev. William Naughton.

Peter Gilbreth, Naughton's attorney, confirmed that the priest had sex with Reid in the late 1970s, and said Reid demanded money in exchange for his silence.

"One indiscretion has got him into a tough situation," Gilbreth said.

"It got very, very threatening and scary at the end," prompting Naughton to report the threats to authorities March 4, Gilbreth said.

Naughton, 61, provided investigators with recordings of 21 messages Reid left on Naughton's cell phone between Feb. 12 and March 4 of this year, saying he needed $215 to buy a bicycle, according to the arrest affidavit.

In five of the messages, Reid threatened to return to New Jersey and harm or kill Naughton, the affidavit said. The prosecutor's office only charged Reid with attempted extortion and making terroristic threats for the bicycle money demand, and not for those that Gilbreth said Reid has made over the years.

Posted by kshaw at April 20, 2005 01:46 AM