(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a settlement with a former clergyman who previously lived in Steubenville and who was accused of creating and using a charity primarily to pay for personal expenses.
Under the settlement, John Sillup, of Sherman Oaks, California, agreed to dissolve his organization, the Society of Notre Dame, to pay $26,519 in restitution, and to pay a $10,000 civil fine. He also agreed not to work for or solicit for charities in Ohio and to shut down websites and social media accounts related to the organization.
Sillup claimed that the Society of Notre Dame (previously known as the Society of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament) was an international organization that helped child refugees, but investigators found no evidence of any programming to support child refugees and determined that Sillup used charitable assets primarily to pay for personal expenses, such as credit card bills, restaurant meals, clothing, a Lexus, and entertainment.
Sillup was incardinated in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, France, and lived in Steubenville, Ohio, before his clerical status was withdrawn by the Catholic Church, according to an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section.
While in Steubenville, Sillup collected charitable contributions but allegedly used the contributions to pay for living expenses. He also sold property belonging to the Society of Notre Dame and used the funds to pay for personal expenses. After moving to California, he promoted a fundraising event to benefit child refugees, but investigators determined that the event never took place.
The Attorney General filed a lawsuit accusing Sillup of multiple violations of Ohio’s charitable laws. The settlement, which resolves the lawsuit, calls for the $26,519 in restitution to be redistributed for the charitable purpose of helping child refugees.
Suspected charitable fraud should be reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.