Monsignor Emilio Colagiovanni has pleaded guilty in Hinds County Circuit Court to state criminal fraud charges, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore and Insurance Commissioner George Dale announced.
The charges stemmed from a state investigation of an alleged conspiracy by financier Martin Frankel to defraud policyholders of Franklin Protective Life Insurance Company, Franklin, Tenn., as well as Family Guaranty Life Insurance Company and First National Life Insurance Company of America, both in Jackson, Miss., and the Mississippi insurance department.
Colagiovanni, a former judge of the Apostolic Tribunal of Roman Rota, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of making fraudulent statements and to another of taking part in a conspiracy with Martin Frankel to help Frankels plan to plunder the insurance companies of their assets.
Frankel pleaded guilty to state charges of conspiracy and fraud on May 24 in a plea bargain. Other colleagues of his made their own plea bargains with prosecutors last year.
Federal charges are still pending against Frankel in New Haven, Conn.
Colagiovanni, an Italian national, was president of the Monitor Ecclesiasticus Foundation, in Rome, Italy. Prosecutors says Colagiovanni made fraudulent statements to Mississippi regulators supporting Frankels contention that the MEF had financial ties to the Saint Francis of Assisi Foundation, an entity allegedly created by Frankel to help hide his acquisition of the insurance companies.
According to court documents, in 1998 and 1999, Colagiovanni helped hide Frankels 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 to use in buying the insurance companies.