Letter to the Editor: Beyond the Money, the Laity Deserves Answers

Archbishop Demetrios of America, Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit and Metropolitan Ambrosios (Zographos) of Korea. (PHOTO: Dimitrios Paganos for the Clergy Laity Conference)

To the Editor:

The National Herald has provided an outstanding service to the Greek Orthodox community by exposing the financial misdeeds of the Archdiocese.

The laity of America, whose money it was, commend you for the expose of this scandal.   Your coverage has prompted strong actions to identify the particulars and the scope of the financial mess through forensic audits and responsible individuals being placed in charge.

Where the scandal and its remedy go from here we will see over the coming months.  But even if the Greek millionaires to whom Archbishop Demetrios refers come forth and donate the monies to pay off the multimillion dollar deficit and replace the misappropriated funds from the St. Nicholas Trust and the Archbishop Iakovos house sale proceeds, it should not be the end of the story and then back to business as usual at the Archdiocese.

The laity demands to know where their money went, and they deserve to know. A $12.75 million deficit is a too big a number to attribute it solely to overruns in employee and office expenses. Can the entire shortfall amount be accounted for?  Is there any fraud or theft involved?  We have been promised that the forensic audit now underway will be made public. It must be. In its entirety without any holdbacks.

You recently reported about the treasurer of a church in Knoxville, TN who stole $400,000, went to jail for a year, and is serving nine years’ probation. To date, he has paid back over half of the missing amount.  With the millions involved in obvious misappropriation along with potential findings of any further misdeeds that may be forthcoming from the audit of the Archdiocese, I wonder whether this scandal merits legal attention regarding those who were responsible.

Andrew Kartalis

Pepper Pike, OH