Robert Lee Brennan

This 2013 Cecil Whig file photo shows Robert Lee Brennan, a former priest who lives in Perryville. Brennan recently pleaded guilty to four counts relating to him lying to FBI agents investigating a federal criminal case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA — A former priest who lives in Perryville has pleaded guilty to four criminal charges relating to him lying to FBI agents who were investigating a case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The defendant, Robert Brennan, 83, entered his guilty pleas to four counts of making materially false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United State government last week during a federal court hearing in Philadelphia, prosecutors said. U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody accepted Brennan’s guilty pleas, prosecutors added.

As of Tuesday, it was not clear the penalties Brennan faces and when he would be sentenced. USAGO representatives could not be reached by phone on Tuesday for additional information, after that agency had issued a press release regarding Brennan entering guilty pleas.

Federal prosecutors filed the four-count indictment against Brennan in September 2019, and those charges stem from an April 2019 interview in which the defendant “made a number of false statements” while FBI agents questioned him, the USAGO reported.

The following is background provided by USAGO representatives and Cecil Whig archives:

Brennan had served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1993 to 2004 as a priest at Resurrection of Our Lord parish in northeast Philadelphia.

In September 2013, prosecutors assigned to the USAGO’s Philadelphia office filed criminal charges against Brennan — alleging that he had sexually abused an altar boy numerous times during a three-year period more than a decade earlier, during a time frame in which the boy would have been 11 to 14 and Brennan, who was the assistant pastor at that point, would have been 60 to 63.

Perryville Police Department officers arrested Brennan, then 75, on Sept. 25, 2013 at his Perryville home, where he has lived since 2005, and then he was extradited to Philadelphia.

But in October 2013, approximately one month later, the alleged victim in the case, Sean McIlmail, 26, died from a drug overdose, which resulted in federal prosecutors dismissing the criminal charges against Brennan. McIlmail was a key prosecution witness in that federal criminal case against Brennan, the USAGO reported at the time. The USAGO identified McIlmail as the alleged victim.

McIlmail’s family filed a civil lawsuit against Brennan and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in November 2013. Then in May 2018, some four and a half year later, that lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Federal prosecutors reported that, during an April 2019 interview with FBI agents, Brennan made several false statements. Brennan falsely claimed, for example, that he did not know McIlmail, his parents and his brother before the filing of the 2013 federal criminal case against him, according to prosecutors.

(It also was not clear, as of Tuesday, why FBI agents conducted an interview with Brennan in April 2019 — after the federal criminal case against him had been dismissed and the civil lawsuit against him and the archdiocese had been settled.)

“Making false statements to the FBI is a serious crime that threatens the integrity of our justice system, and we will hold offenders accountable no matter who they are,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams commented.

The case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department, prosecutors said. U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Morgan is prosecuting the case, prosecutors added.

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