News of Abbey Sale and Other Musings

Procrastination has been one of my comforting habits for the last several months. However, no matter how nice it has been to keep putting everything off I must get busy. Procrastination much like constipation needs to be confronted and strained to work itself out. So here's all the poop that has been accumulating that last few months.
By now most everyone has heard of the goings on of the Follieri Group and the man behind it, Rafaello Follieri. Mike Long sent out a news release not too long ago. It seems that the Abbey property was paid for up front by Follieri associates so the Congregation of Benedictines won't have to take possession of the Abbey again for another frenzied sale. Surprisingly the Eastern news media seems more interested in the story than out here as very little if anything has been mentioned about Follieri's convection. I have seen a picture of Rafaello Follieri and he seems to me to look like an upstanding whop. Not at all like a Sicilian. I'm sure there is a logical explanation about the whole misunderstanding.  Rafaello probably didn't mean to say he knew a high ranking Vatican official but instead knew a rank Abbott who was willing to trade The Abbey for a mess of penny stocks and some Enron shares. Mark Cumrine sent me an e-mail sent to him on the matter. I am enclosing it at the bottom of this e-mail for your edification. Take note that it was constructed by a member of the class of ' 59 so be forewarned.
I have some pleasant news to pass along also. In August the two Wincowski brothers were in Denver and I was able to get away and attend a Colorado Rockies baseball game with them. Afterwards we went out to The Capital Grille for dinner. Jim is still doctoring in Green Bay while John is still in St. Louis managing the St. Louis Cardinals all be it  from the comfort of his living room. Actually he is accounting for a real estate tycoon. Jim's four children are out of the house and John's daughter is a high school senior. By the way the Rockies lost the game.
Just two weeks ago Jim Winston was again in Colorado up in Beaver Creek and he swung down to the Springs where he and I and my father went out to dinner. At fifty-seven years old that's kind of what we do now...go out to dinner.  Anyway, Jim stayed the night and we had a good visit and then he took off early the next morning to return to Green Bay.
Way back in July-August I had a chance to meet Marc Rossi and girlfriend when they where in the Springs and Divide, CO. for a long weekend. Marc read in one of his motor-head magazines he subscribes to that the Broadmoor Hotel was sponsoring an upscale auto concourse show on one of its golf courses so he flew out this way. Before he left to return to California we got together and I gave him a very quick tour of the Broadmoor property.  Hopefully Marc will come this way again for another auto show and we can get together for dinner. See the pattern forming?
I spoke and conversed with Mike Berg via phone and e-mail again in August. He is doing well as he and some business associated were at the B'moor for some R&R. Mike is an oil and gas man. He has oil in his hair and gas on the stomach. Ah, the old jokes never go out of vogue. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to hook up with Mike though I would have loved to see him after so many years. I think the last time I saw Mike was at Mick McLaughlin's wedding ceremony with the former Miss Debbie Berg. That had to be over eight years ago as I believe that Brian's son Michael Thomas McLaughlin is at least ten. Just kidding Mick. Everything from wedding to child and beyond was done in accordance with Holy Mother Church...well at least the timetable portion of the events were.
Speaking of Brian "Mickey" McLaughlin, he gave me a call not too long ago. He wanted to know what the point spread was on the Abbey Bears vs. Roncolli football game was. I asked him if he was sure that he wasn't retarded and told him he needed pride and to take a lap to the poll. Then he rubbed it in about the McCain vs. Obama point spread although he did admit that this go around at least his hand would be shaking when he goes into the voting booth to pull the lever. It is my strong believe that George Lockwood Holley is exhausted from repeating one novena after another before election day rolls around in hopes of turning the tide.  Anyway, I'm suppose not to let Mick's sister know, so I hope she doesn't hack into my e-mails, but he said he might be coming out this way for her birthday though as of yet I haven't seen him.
Here is some exciting news. After so many years our little Moby Mattson is branching out into new fields of endeavors. I received a notice from Pat, Moby's lady, that he has his first of hopefully several to come one man photography exhibits on display in Albuquerque at the main public library. It opened October 1 and will run through October 31 at the library on Copper NW. Any of you New Mexico folks should try and stop by and give it a look. Congratulations Moby. It's described as outdoor photography so I don't know if that means that Pat happened to pose au naturel in the great outdoors for any of the photos. That might be an incentive to check it out. For those of you who can not drop by Albuquerque, look for Moby's photos and information at
I have been getting a few inquiries about a possible 40th class of ' 69 reunion sometime in 2009.  I don't want to be the solo decision maker of any arrangements as to the locale, however, the people I spoke with seem to be leaning towards Canon City.  I don't know what the status or the availability of The Abbey is but I don't mind doing the footwork to line something up if there is interest. I also don't mind looking into other possibilities such as The Broadmoor or even another city and state. For right now I will make contact with the events coordinator at the Abbey and at least get a feel for what the future might hold for the Abbey. Also it will be easy to look into cost and  availability of facilities at the Broadmoor. I know this will make Rudy Koppl happy.  The only other immediate topic for discussion is time of year. Early to mid August seems always to be a big family reunion or special events time of the year for most families. Again I am open to suggestion. The end of August to the first part of September weather wise is still pleasant in most locations. Anyway think about it. If anything we can get together for dinner.
I hope you are all healthy and happy,
Mike Rolla

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 9:44 AM
To: A.J. Rose; Ignatious Smith; Mike Rolla; Ralph Smith; Tom Salazar; Baca Randy
Subject: FW: Abbey update

From: To: Subject: Fw: Abbey update Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 22:07:13 -0600
Here's a synopsis Phil Barela put together and Bo Davidson forwarded to me.
----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Davidson
To: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2008 9:57 PM
Subject: Fw: Abbey update

-----Forwarded Message-----
From: Phil and Noni Barela
Sent: Oct 4, 2008 10:47 AM
Subject: Abbey update

                                                       To the Abbey Class of 59
     Here is an update on what has happened at the Abbey and it is quite an interesting and bizarre story.   Some of the details are missing and I am going to have to fill in the blaniks with my own conjecture.
  In Feb of last year, 2007, the Abbey was supposedly sold to "The Folieri Group."  This group was put together by a guy by the name of Rafaello Folieri, an Italian who claimed to have ties to the Vatican and was even a part of the financial administration of the Vatican.  The intention of that group was to identify viable properties that could be purchased and converted to other uses with dignity and respect for the past.  The Abbey property closed and apparently apparently a check was received that went to the American Cassanese Congregation which is the Abbey's parent group.  I hope to find out if they really received the money.
     The whole thing turned out to be a scam and  Rafaello Folieri was a swindler who is now in jail in New York for fraud and money laundering, with a bail of 21 million.   What I haven't been able to find is the details of the scam itself.  Apparently he invested in the Abbey property with billionaire Ron Berkle and then swindled him out of millions.   Some of this stuff is on the internet but I haven't seen the direct mention of the Abbey property because they were involved with other properties.
     Rafaello Folieri's girlfriend was none other than movie actress Ann Hathaway who is famous for several movies including Get Smart, Brokeback Mountain and the brand new release out this week  Rachel Gets Married.(or something like that).  She was best dressed at the Oscars.  In some of the photos of her that night she is standing with Folieri.   People magazine had her as one of the world's most beautiful people.
     Folieri and Hathaway were living in a $37,000 per month apartment in Manhatten and were flying around to these properties in a Lear jet.   He had figured out that the church was desperate for cash because of the pedofile lawsuits and there were a lot of prime properties sitting around with desperate sellers.  He was right.
They Abbey had been on the market since the early 90's with few lookers because of the financial complications and specific use buildings on the campus.  The few monks that were left were in limbo all that time with all that uncertainty and welcomed any interest.
     Apparently, Folieri was a fast talker and swindled a number of investors in the process including billionaire Ron Berkle who, when he realized he had been taken, turned around and sued Folieri  and is probably the one that turned him in to the FBI.  In June of this year Hathaway broke up with him and turned in some of her personal diaries to the FBI.  She is not considered a part of his crimes.  I think she woke up and realized she better get the hell out of it.    A few days later he was arrested and charged by the FBI and bail was set.   The breakup was very public and was in tabloids and on junk TV.
     If you are interested, a lot of this stuff  you can find on the internet by Googling up  Ann Hathaway or Rafaello Folieri.   There is also a recent article in the Canon City Daily Record and another interesting article in the National Catholic Reporter that came out before the breakup and arrest and has some of these details. They thought he was doing a great thing by buying up all these properties.
     I was told the property is now in Berkle's hands and he is deciding what to do with it.  Bro David (who passed away earlier this year) had told me a couple of years ago that the bulldozers were ready to roll as soon as the deal was closed  and a business park would be started.   However, nothing has been done and the campus is virtually the same as it was when we were there at that last reunion.  There are some ladies in the office who are still there as employees and are booking events and overnight lodging in the dorms and anything they can. The winery is still leased out  but the lease is up in the next year. The Abbey Wine, I have heard , was judged the best in Colorado.  My guess is that the winery will continue since it has had much success.  The farm is also leased out.  The ladies in the office told me they are on a day to day basis until a decision is made about what will happen to the property.
     As Bo mentioned,  Ann Hathaway was on David Letterman a few nights ago and Letterman very carefully asked her a few questions about her ex boyfriend Folieri being in jail and her involvement with him.  It was an interesting interview if you knew the background.  I have it on tape if anyone cares to see it.
             Best regards,        Phil