At Prey in the Fields of the Lord

Robert Riggio has made a career out of conning priests and parishes by phone. If he calls you, hang up.

Yes, she says, he does have a gambling problem. But, she adds, 'he always had an angle. He never lived by the rules.'

June Riggio recalls the time years ago when Robert lied to her daughter that it was all right to 'borrow' money that June had set aside for a family vacation. He never paid it back. Another time, she says, he concocted a tale of woe to hit up her landlady for money. Robert would also put the arm on his older brother Jay's friends, she says, and Jay would have to pay them back.

The final blow came after Robert's latest stint in prison. June says she and her daughter regularly got up at 3 a.m. to take a bus upstate to visit her brother, bringing him food and money. But after Robert was paroled, she says, he didn't have anything to do with them.

illustration: Luis Diaz

'He was a user of people, so I don't feel sorry for him,' she says. 'He used people all his life.'

When June Riggio, now 68, moved a couple of years ago from her Queens home after retiring as a secretary at a city hospital, she didn't tell Robert or his family. She insists that her new location not be publicized for fear that her brother might drag her back into his troubles or try to scam her new neighbors. She's one victim who won't be scammed again.

'He doesn't care about anything to do about his family,' she says, 'so as far his family goes, we don't have a brother Robert.'

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