A defrocked, ex-con priest who was a diocesan spin doctor at the height of the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal now heads a pair of New York City nonprofits which have raked in millions in taxpayer cash.
Edward Bolognini, who used to be a high-ranking New Hampshire holy man named Edward Arsenault, pled guilty in 2014 to stealing some $300,000 from a Catholic hospital, his diocese and a dead priest’s estate.
Among the monsignor’s sins was lavishing some of the pilfered cash on his lover — musician Luke Parkin — paying for expensive meals and trips to San Francisco and New York, according to reports.
“It’s criminal behavior. It’s disturbing behavior,” then-New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said after the priest’s 2014 sentencing. “These are thefts from a charitable institution by someone very high up.”
Bolognini was a well-known figure in New Hampshire as the Manchester diocese spokesman in the early 2000s.
Bolognini served four years in prison, some of it on home confinement, before being released in 2018. Pope Francis had booted him from the priesthood a year earlier.
By June 2018, the former prelate moved on to nonprofit work, joining the sprawling FedCap Group based in midtown. Among his roles, according to his online resume, was as interim VP in human resources for FedCap, which works in health care and job training among other areas.
Bolognini became executive director of two nonprofits under The FedCap Group umbrella — ReServe Elder Service and Wildcat Services Corp.
Both groups have raked in $20 million in city money during the last five years, according to the comptroller’s office.
Bolognini was paid $156,000 in 2020, the last year of available tax filings.
ReServe helps older adults find work in city agencies and elsewhere. The group was awarded $10 million to promote the COVID-19 vaccine and distribute test kits and masks, according to its website.
Wildcat’s work involves helping former inmates and others land jobs.
Bolognini’s bio on that group’s website obliquely mentions his past, saying “Ed is among an estimated 70 million Americans who have been involved in the criminal justice system.” It does not reveal he was a priest or his crimes.
His leadership may give donors pause, one watchdog group said.
“It’s certainly reasonable to be concerned as a donor if you’re considering donating to a nonprofit that has hired someone with a criminal background,” said Kevin Scally of Charity Navigator.
Susan Walsh, a FedCap spokeswoman, said Bolognini had disclosed his criminal conviction to the agency. She said he changed his name when he married his husband in 2020.
Walsh said the financial administration of ReServe and Wildcat was overseen by staff at The Fedcap Group and the nonprofit was about “second chances.”
“We do not discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation or personal background and Ed and his entire team embody our deep commitment to service, personal renewal, and a brighter future for all people,” Walsh said.
Bolognini declined to comment.