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Priest, Irishman Convicted in Brink’s Robbery; Two Others Acquitted

November 28, 1994 GMT

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A Catholic priest and an ex-guerrilla from Northern Ireland were convicted Monday of charges related to the $7.4 million robbery of a Brink’s armored car depot.

Two other men, ex-Brink’s guard Thomas O’Connor and unemployed teacher Charles McCormick, were acquitted.

After a seven-week trial, the jury deliberated for 2 1/2 days before reaching their verdict in the nation’s fifth-biggest armored-car robbery.

The Rev. Patrick Moloney and Samuel Millar, who were taken into custody after the verdict, were each convicted of conspiring to possess money from the robbery. The two men could get up to five years at their sentencing Feb. 9.

Millar, a 39-year-old Northern Ireland rebel, and Moloney, a 62-year-old Catholic Melkite priest who runs a youth shelter, had leased a New York City apartment where police recovered $2.01 million a year ago. About $107,000 had serial numbers linking it to the robbery.

McCormick, 30, who subleased the apartment to the priest four months before the stash was found, said federal prosecutors produced ″no evidence whatsoever″ linking him to the robbery.

″It really makes me very sad that power can be abused in such a manner,″ he told reporters.

″I just want to be with my family,″ a solemn-faced O’Connor said as he hurried out of U.S. District Court with his girlfriend.

Prosecutors had argued that O’Connor, 55, a retired Rochester police detective who took a security job at Brink’s in 1990, masterminded the holdup on Jan. 5, 1993.

He was acquitted of robbery, conspiracy and possession charges that carried a maximum 25-year sentence; the others faced a sole charge of conspiring to possess stolen money.

O’Connor maintained that at least three masked gunmen slipped into the depot, tied up all three guards, took him hostage during the getaway and dumped him on a suburban roadside two hours later.

In testimony, he acknowledged smuggling Millar into the United States in August 1984 after meeting him four months earlier in a Belfast bar. Millar had just completed 10 years in prison for a botched bombing and membership in the Irish Republican Army’s youth wing.

In the months after the robbery, investigators said O’Connor, Millar and Moloney seemed suddenly to have a lot of cash on hand.

Among other things, Millar sent his family on expensive vacations to Hawaii and Florida, O’Connor carried out $26,000 in house repairs, and Moloney had $168,000 in cash in his safe - $1,200 of it in Canadian dollars. The stolen Brink’s money included $1,450 in Canadian currency.

Investigators initially said they suspected the missing money was funneled to the IRA, but, for lack of evidence, prosecutors agreed not to mention the guerrilla group as a motive.

Moloney, who emigrated from Limerick in 1955, was arrested on weapons smuggling charges during a visit home in 1980 but was never prosecuted; his brother, John, pleaded guilty and served three years.

O’Connor was active in Irish Northern Aid, a U.S. group that collects money for families of people caught up in Northern Ireland’s 25 years of political and sectarian warfare, which was halted by an Aug. 31 cease-fire. The U.S. government contends NORAID is an arms-smuggling agent of the IRA.

Millar moved from Rochester to New York in 1986 and took a variety of jobs. He called in sick the day before the holdup, and a collect call was placed from Rochester to his home an hour after the robbery. A week later, he quit his job as an elevator operator in Manhattan.

Midway through the trial, Judge David Larimer threw out two possession charges against Millar and Moloney, saying the prosecution had failed to support allegations that the men possessed money in western New York or that the money left the state and became an interstate shipment.