Man gets nearly three years for phony abuse claims

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PORTLAND — A bank robber who made phony claims of child sex abuse by priests in four states in an unsuccessful effort to get money has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for mail fraud.

The U.S. attorney’s office says 50-year-old Shamont Sapp was given a 33-month sentence Wednesday in Portland by U.S. District Judge Anna Brown.

The former Pennsylvania resident pleaded guilty to pursuing phony cases against Roman Catholic dioceses in Portland; Tucson, Arizona; Covington, Kentucky; and Spokane from 2005 through 2010. The Spokane Diocese includes Walla Walla.

Federal prosecutors say he filed the fraudulent claims while he was a federal prison inmate serving lengthy sentences for 10 Pennsylvania bank robberies he committed in 1995.

In each, he claimed he had been sexually abused as a teenage runaway in 1978-79. Disproving the claims required extensive investigative and legal work. The U.S. attorney’s office says the Archdiocese of Portland spent $70,000 disproving Sapp’s allegations.

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