A federal grand jury in Portland has returned an indictment against Shamont Sapp, 49, charging him with mail fraud in a five-year scheme involving false claims ofchild sex abuse by Catholic priests in four dioceses.
Sapp, originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is alleged to have used "legal mail" while an inmate of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to file, pursue and litigate the false claims in federal courts from 2005 through 2010. According to the indictment, the false claims caused the dioceses, their representatives, several courts and other entities to expend money, time and other resources to investigate and resolve the claims, which were ultimately denied or dismissed. The indictment states that the four fraudulent claims sought money damages, and eachalleged similar sexual assaults by specified priests when Sapp was a minor in 1978-79. Itcharges that Sapp had not been sexually assaulted by the priests and, indeed, had not even beenpresent in the dioceses as alleged in his claims.Fraudulent claims listed in the indictment involved the dioceses of Tucson, Arizona;Covington, Kentucky, and Spokane, Washington, as well as the Archdiocese of Portland,Oregon. In the Covington and Spokane cases, the indictment notes that Sapp falsely allegedsexual assaults by priests in two different cities on the same day, August 18, 1978.Sapp initially will appear in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where thegovernment will seek his removal to Portland to face trial on the indictment.An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant should be presumedinnocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of mail fraud, Sapp faces a maximumsentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, as well as mandatory restitution for alldamages incurred.The case has been investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and is beingprosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Stephen F. Peifer.
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