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Diocese of Steubenville audit near conclusion

STEUBENVILLE — As Holy Week progresses toward Easter Sunday, an audit of the finances of the Diocese of Steubenville is nearing conclusion.

The diocese said Tuesday it anticipates completion of an investigation of its finance office to be completed by mid-April.

In a statement released Tuesday, Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton said he hopes “the investigation of the diocesan finance office will be completed by the first week of April.

Auditors with Schneider Downs of Pittsburgh are closely looking into every aspect of the payroll system and accounting processes for more than a decade.”

Monforton added, “The process is moving along well and I expect to have answers soon after their thorough investigation. Forensic audits can take months to complete. We want to resolve this situation and make sure it never happens again.”

In announcing the audit in early February, Monforton said during a recent reorganization of the diocesan financial office and an external auditing process, irregularities were found. He said that audit had been engaged regarding the diocese’s mission status and the reorganization, including the hiring of a new chief financial officer and other factors.

Monforton said Tuesday the forensic auditors are looking into everything from “accounting errors to possible inappropriate use of funds.”

While getting its finances in order, the diocese has suspended all major expenditures, including the renovation project at Holy Name Cathedral.

In addition to Schneider Downs, the diocese retained the Bodman Law firm, based in Troy, Mich., to conduct the investigation.

The cathedral was closed in 2014 and more than $1 million already has been spent on infrastructure, including creation of a cul-de-sac in front of the building. Interior renovations were to have started during the winter, and the diocese had been hoping to apply for grants from Catholic Home Missions to aid the financial campaign to complete Holy Name as well as ongoing fundraising efforts.

The diocese has been raising funds for the cathedral for more than a decade, following the realignment of parishes in the city, and was preparing to embark on another campaign to complete the project.

The bishop thanked every parishioner in the diocese for their patience during the investigation and said he intends to release more information as soon as he receives more details.

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