Thursday, June 28, 2007

Judge OKs priest's guilty plea

A Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati pleaded guilty to drug possession charges Tuesday in a plea agreement that is likely to lead to the charges being dismissed.

The Rev. Thomas Gaeke, 58, who now lives in Tampa, Fla., entered Alford pleas to a felony charge of possession of crack and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The pleas mean that Gaeke is not admitting guilt, but recognizes that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him.

In the plea agreement tentatively accepted Tuesday by Kenton Circuit Judge Steve Jaeger, prosecutors said they will send the charges through the diversion program.

That means that in exchange for some positive acts from Gaeke - community service, for example - the charges will be dismissed.

Jaeger will sentence Gaeke, and formally rule on the diversion, on July 24.

Members of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force arrested Gaeke in January at the Hampton Inn in Covington.

They confiscated a small quantity of crack and a crack pipe.

Gaeke was ordained in 1975, but has been on medical leave from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 2000.

Prior to that, he served at St. Mary Church for eight years and at Holy Family Church for five years. Both are in Dayton, Ohio.

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