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Ex-Legion priest says he saw fiscal improprieties

By By MICHELLE R. SMITH

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A former priest for the Roman Catholic religious order the Legion of Christ said in sworn testimony that he witnessed financial improprieties, including the founder's use of large amounts of cash, and believes the founder and No. 2 official gave gifts to people at the Vatican to curry favor.

Father Stephen Fichter's (FICK'-terz) 2011 testimony was unsealed by a court last week. Similar allegations have been made previously, but until now, no sworn testimony has been released from Legion priests.

Fichter handled Legion finances from 1998 until 2000. A Legion spokesman says Fichter testimony concerned things that happened years ago, and gifts were sometimes given for special occasions. He says there is now accountability in the order's spending.

The order was taken over by the Vatican in 2010.

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