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Roman Catholic Priest Sentenced to

April 17, 2002

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Wednesday to four years and three months in prison for dealing drugs from his Florida rectory and his New Orleans condominium.

The Rev. Thomas Crandall, 47, once faced up to 40 years in prison. Sentencing guidelines and U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling that three firearms found in the rectory were unrelated to the drug dealing reduced the penalty to a range of three years and 10 months to four years and nine months.

In a deal with prosecutors, Crandall pleaded guilty Feb. 1 to conspiring to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine and Ecstasy. He admitted he dealt drugs in the rectory of his church, St. Rose of Lima in nearby Milton, and at his Bourbon Street condominium in New Orleans.

He has been jailed since his Jan. 12 arrest.

Crandall blamed drug use and job stress in a statement he read to the judge Wednesday, but he accepted full responsibility for his crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Preisser said Crandall also stole money from his church and used it to buy the condo and a sport utility vehicle, but the priest has not been charged with those crimes.

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