COLORADO: Ecclesiastical Court affirms guilty verdict for Armstrong

October 1, 2007

The Ecclesiastical Court of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has affirmed its August 8 finding that the Rev. Don Armstrong, former rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, had engaged in financial misconduct

Armstrong was notified of the decision on September 28, according to a diocesan news release.

The court's unanimous judgment and sentence, which came following a 30-day comment period initiated by its preliminary judgment in August, reiterated that Armstrong is guilty of:

  • committing crimes, including theft of $392,409.93 from Grace Church, and causing Grace Church to issue false W-2s and underreport Armstrong's income and benefits by $548,097.27;

  • receiving illegal loans totaling $122,479.16 in violation of diocesan canons;

  • encumbering and alienating Grace Church's real property without authorization;

  • violating a temporary inhibition placed on him;

  • using clergy discretionary funds improperly; and

  • failing to maintain proper books of account.

Armstrong now has two weeks to provide reasons why he should not be sentenced or provide information about circumstances that would mitigate the court's findings, the diocesan release said.

The five-member panel, meeting September 26, also sentenced Armstrong to be deposed from his ministry as an Episcopal priest.

Following a 30-day waiting period, Colorado Bishop Robert O'Neill will pronounce a final sentence. O'Neill can, at his discretion, lessen the court's sentence but cannot increase it, the release said.

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