Dennis Mehiel Resigns from St. Nicholas Investigative Committee

The National Herald

Left to right: Dennis Mehiel, Eugene Rossides, Cypriot Ambassador Leonidas Pantelides. (Photo by TNH/Bill Petros)

BOSTON - Greek-American businessman Dennis Mehiel in a letter dated July 30, 2018 submitted his resignation to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America from the St. Nicholas Special Investigative Committee.

Mr. Mehiel wrote in his resignation letter that “It appears my understanding of the Committee’s role in resolving the issues that caused the project to founder is at odds with what Your Eminence had intended when appointed us.”

It should be noted here that Mr. Mehiel was instrumental in achieving an agreement with the Authorities of New York for the rebuild of S. Nicholas. Mr. Mehiel is the second official who resigns from an Archdiocesan Committee. The first one was Mr. Michael Psaros who resigned as treasurer of the Archdiocesan Council at the recent Clergy Laity Congress.

In November of 2017 after The National Herald’s revelations about the dire financial situation of the Archdiocese and the transfer of funds from restricted accounts of St. Nicholas to the operational accounts of the Archdiocese, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios appointed that Special Investigative Committee.

Also the Archdiocese issued the following News Rerelease announcing that Investigative Committee and its mission:

“The Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America formed an independent Special Investigative Committee (the 'Special Investigative Committee') related to St. Nicholas National Shrine, at a special meeting on November 21, 2017. The Executive Committee, which includes the Archbishop, the Holy Eparchial Synod and lay members, determined that it is in the best interests of the Archdiocese and Her faithful to form this Special Investigative Committee to investigate and evaluate expenditures related to (1) the St. Nicholas Shrine construction project, and (2) the potential use of certain St. Nicholas Shrine restricted funds for the payment of Archdiocesan general operating expenses. This special committee will make a report of its findings and recommendations to the Executive Committee, which will share the results of the investigation and recommendations with, among others, the legal and audit committees. The Executive Committee appointed the following individuals to serve on the Special Investigative Committee: Mr. George Canellos, Esq., Mr. Nikiforos Mathews, Esq., Mr. Dennis Mehiel, and Mr. John Pappajohn. Authorized to engage independent advisors, including its own independent legal counsel, and independent accountant or audit firm if deemed necessary, the Special Investigative Committee has been given full authority to contact, obtain information from and consult with the Archdiocese’s current and former officers, employees, volunteers and contractors, in connection with any matters within its review. It has been asked to provide a preliminary report within ninety days and periodic updates, thereafter. BakerHostetler and PwC will serve as independent legal counsel and independent accountants, respectively.”

On July 30, 2018, Mr. Mehiel’s resigned with the following letter:

“Your Eminence, I write to submit my resignation, effective immediately, as both the Chair and a Member of the St. Nicholas Special Investigative Committee you appointed this past November. It appears my understanding of the Committee’s role in resolving the issues that caused the project to founder is at odds with what Your Eminence had intended when appointed us. Unfortunately, I have concluded that the work we had hoped to accomplish will not be possible with the current framework in place. I am aware that members of the Council have initiated some activity designed to meet the challenges the Archdiocese faces in attempting to complete the project, and I wish you and Council success in this most critical endeavor. Sincerely Dennis Mehiel .”

Mr. Mehiel is the former Chairman, CEO and Principal Shareholder of Box USA, which he founded in 1966. The company was built primarily through the acquisition of financially troubled competitors, many in Chapter 11. When sold to International Paper in 2004, Box USA was then the Nation’s largest independent producer of corrugated shipping containers operating 22 corrugated packaging facilities and two containerboard mills, all located within the continental United States.

Mr. Mehiel is also the former Chairman, CEO, and Principal Shareholder of Sweetheart Cup Company, North America’s largest producer of disposable table top products for the away-from-home dining market. The company was acquired by its principal competitor, Solo Cup Company in 2004. Sweetheart was rescued from insolvency when acquired by Mr. Mehiel in 1998. During the course of his career Mr. Mehiel has been instrumental in creating or saving thousands of U.S. based manufacturing jobs. He has long experience in the Public Debt Markets through which his enterprises have typically been capitalized.

Mr. Mehiel has long been active in New York State political life. He served for 12 years as a member of the Democratic National Committee and is a former Chairman of the Westchester County Democratic Committee. For eight years he served as an Officer and Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. He was the New York State Chair of the Kerry Presidential Campaign in 2004 and was the Democratic Nominee for Lt. Governor in 2002.