Sonoma Co. school principal under criminal investigation for unauthorized credit card charges

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Friday, September 8, 2023
Sonoma Co. school principal investigated for credit card charges
The principal of a Sonoma County school has been fired over unauthorized credit card charges, and the man now faces a criminal investigation.

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- The principal of a Sonoma County Catholic prep school has been fired over unauthorized charges on a school credit card -- more than $100,000, according to the pastor, and the man now faces a criminal investigation. This now-former principal is well-known at several of the Bay Area's Catholic high schools. He worked at Riordan in San Francisco, Marin Catholic and now has been forced out of St. Vincent De Paul in Petaluma.

The lead detective in the Petaluma Police Investigations Unit confirms to the I-Team, that they have opened a criminal investigation at the request of officials at St. Vincent De Paul College Prep into former principal Patrick Daly who got fired just as the school year was getting underway.

"They suspected some type of wrongdoing in the realm of embezzlement or unauthorized purchases," said Sgt. Ryan McGreevy. "They asked us to open a criminal investigation, which we have."

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Daly worked at the school for six years. Now, staff members are combing records and researching questions posed by investigators. The case is at a very early stage.

McGreevy said, "At this point, we're waiting for those documents and asks, and that's really where we're at."

No one at the school would comment Thursday. St. Vincent De Paul's director of admissions tried to block ABC7 News' camera.

DAN NOYES: "Well, you're in public, so-"


NOYES: "Yeah, so am I."

PEDERSEN: "Okay, good luck to you."

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The director of admissions wouldn't comment, nor would the interim principal or officials at St. Vincent De Paul parish or the Santa Rosa Diocese.

A parent sent the I-Team a message they received from the pastor of the school, Father William Donahue, detailing more than $100,000 in unauthorized charges on a school credit card assigned to Principal Daly -- including $52,000 in cash advances -- and thousands more in health-related expenses, car registration, life insurance premiums, a payment to the state tax board, thousands to the San Leandro Marina and in vet bills. The pastor points out, the school doesn't own a boat or a pet.

The controversy comes as a shock to the parents, students and neighbors of the school.

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"Well, I'm very disappointed," neighbor Nancy Wold said. "I feel like the families and the staff have put their trust in Mr. Daley. And I feel as though it's been violated."

Neighbor Robert Long agreed, "Well, I'm pretty shocked. I mean, I've lived here for over 20 years. I've never had a problem with the school."

Daly became known to the community after he fired Black staff in 2020, sparking this protest.

At the time, on Aug. 2, 2020, Daly told ABC7 News, "Race played no part in the lay-off of four individuals."

And after he appeared at a White House symposium with then-President Trump that same summer.

"Good Afternoon, Mr. President. I'm Patrick Daly, Principal of St. Vincent De Paul High School in Petaluma," he said at the time.

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Daly pushed for schools to reopen as the pandemic faded.

Daly said, "I can't thank you enough for your leadership of our country and thank you for this honor."

The I-Team's Dan Noyes called Daly, visited his home and the marina where he allegedly kept a boat, and have not been able to reach him. To the Petaluma Argus-Courier, he denied using school money inappropriately, saying, "As far as I'm concerned, the truth will ultimately come out."

We're getting new information about Mr. Daly's time at those other schools and why he left. If you have something we should investigate, call 1-888-40-I-Team or send an email through

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