NU Online News Service, Sept. 11, 3:57 p.m. – Monsignor Emilio Colagiovanni has pleaded guilty in Hinds County Circuit Court in Jackson, Miss., to state criminal fraud charges, according to Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore and Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale.

The charges stem from a state investigation of allegations that financier Martin Frankel conspired to defraud policyholders of Franklin Protective Life Insurance Company, Franklin, Tenn.; Family Guaranty Life Insurance Company and First National Life Insurance Company of America, both of Jackson, Miss.; and the Mississippi Department of Insurance.

Colagiovanni, a former judge of the Apostolic Tribunal of Roman Rota, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of making fraudulent statements and a second count of taking part in a conspiracy with Martin Frankel to help Frankel loot the insurance companies.

Frankel pleaded guilty to state charges of conspiracy and fraud May 24 in a plea bargain. Other colleagues of Frankel made their own plea bargains with prosecutors late last year.

Federal charges are still pending against Frankel in New Haven, Conn.

Colagiovanni, an Italian national, was president of the Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation, Rome. Prosecutors say Colagiovanni misled Mississippi regulators by backing up Frankel’s contention that the MEF had financial ties to the Saint Francis of Assisi Foundation, an entity created by Frankel to help hide his acquisition of the insurance companies.

According to court documents, in 1998 and 1999, Colagiovanni helped hide Frankel’s control of the SFAF and made false statements to state regulators that funds had been transferred from the Vatican through the MEF to the SFAF for use in buying the insurance companies..

Prosecutors say Frankel planned to channel $55 million through the MEF to his own foundation. They say Colagiovanni also arranged for Frankel to use an account at the Vatican Bank in the name of the MEF to carry out U.S. insurance company acquisitions, court documents say.

Prosecutors charge that Colagiovanni agreed with Frankel to falsely represent to regulators that the SFAF received its funding through the MEF from numerous Roman Catholic tribunals and Roman Catholic charitable and cultural institutions. However, Colagiovanni knew that the SFAF was not funded by the Roman Catholic charities and tribunals, prosecutors charge.

Sentencing in the case was deferred.

“Colagiovanni’s plea agreement with the state of Mississippi requires his full cooperation with the ongoing criminal investigation concerning his co-conspirators,” says Carla Clark, a Mississippi special assistant attorney general.