Local News

Mar 5, 2014 11:57 PM by Janine Reyes-jreyes@kristv.com

Lawsuit Over Charity Bingo Filed in Nueces County Court

CORPUS CHRISTI - A lawsuit that centers around an issue that KRIS 6 News started investigating almost a year ago, even involves a priest.

Father James Farfaglia of Corpus Christi was named in a lawsuit filed in a Nueces County Court yesterday.

The Texas State Council of the Knights of Columbus is also named in that lawsuit. It also makes a reference about a 6 News investigative report on charity bingo.

At this point, the judge is giving the Knights of Columbus, Chapter 6174 what they want in terms of a Temporary Restraining Order.

The suit also names the priest at our lady of guadalupe, contending he committed slander from the pulpit against the chapter affiliated with his church.

It's all centered around charity bingo. The lawsuit contends that the Texas Chapter of the Knights of Columbus tried to remove the members of the local chapter without their due process to appeal and that they prohibited them from raising money through charity bingo.

The TRO, signed in County Court at Law 1 Tuesday keeps the Knights of Columbus, Texas chapter from removing the officers named in the lawsuit and from preventing them from holding a bingo license. Another hearing on these temporary orders is set for March 17th.

The lawsuit claims that after finding Knights of Columbus, chapter 6174 in compliance with the rules of the organization, leadership in the council used 6 Investigates coverage to force them out.

An audit of the local chapter in March of 2011 stated that "preliminary findings proved very little but did raise suspicions." But a year later the State Deputy of the State Council issued a report saying "I have determined that the council is in compliance with the rules of the Order and no other actions need to be taken at this time."

The local chapter's suit claims Bishop Mulvey "with a hell bent mission, attitude and intent, as will be alleged below, to "gut" the Local Council out of existence, without fair, just, or good cause!"

The suit says 6 News "erroneously stated that the Columbian Ladies of South Texas," who were under investigation at the time by the Bingo Commission, were"affiliated with the Knights of Columbus."

Both groups were running charity bingo at CC Bingo last year, it's a facility owned by a husband and wife who were members of the separate groups.

When we spoke to the Columbian Ladies for our initial report, Betty Constante told us on camera that "the members (of the Columbian Ladies) are the wives of the Knights of Columbus, from Our Lady of Guadalupe."

Our Lady of Guadalupe is also involved in this suit. Father James Farfaglia addressed the congregation at the church after 6 News aired stories on the Columbian Ladies of South Texas and their husbands, participating in the Knights of Columbus 6174.

According to the suit, Father Farfaglia called the money they raised "dirty money" and told the congregation members of Council 6174 are "like dog doo doo that sticks to your feet or shoes that even if it dries will with the wind still stink."

That's why this suit addresses the priest and comments he made from the pulpit. Chapter 6174 says those comments were slanderous.

The group is seeking $1,000,000 in damages and requesting to stay on as leaders of Knights of Columbus Chapter 6174. They're also requesting to continue to conduct charity bingo with that organization, the State Organization banned it last year.

We reached out to the people involved in this lawsuit today. none would comment

In fact, the Diocese of Corpus Christi said they didn't even know there was a lawsuit.

But, in general terms, their protocol typically provides legal representation for their clergy.

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