BOSTON – The U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York ruled on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, sentencing Jerry Dimitriou to two years of probation, four months of house incarceration, and over one hundred hours of community service for charges related to personal tax evasion while he served as the Executive Director of Administration of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.*
The Greek Edition of The National Herald (Εθνικός Κήρυξ) broke the story the evening of August 2 and the Archdiocese of America issued a News Release the next day on August 3. The full text is seen at the end of this article.
A telephone message left for Mr. Dimitriou remained unanswered at the time this article was completed.
The case dates back to the years 2017-2018. Information received by The National Herald reports that the insurance company of the Archdiocese paid compensation to cover part of the amount that the Archdiocese suffered as damages.
The verdict was issued late in the afternoon of Wednesday, August 2, by Judge Kathleen Faila of the Southern District of New York.
Meanwhile, on the morning of Thursday, August 3, the Archdiocese issued a News Release, confirming the news of the Greek edition of The National Herald and referring to the incidents.
For the record and for accuracy purposes, it is noted that according to the Archdiocesan News Release, the insurance provided compensation to the Archdiocese in excess of one million dollars.
The case started in 2017 and is part of the financial problems that arose in the Archdiocese, eventually leading to virtual bankruptcy, as revealed by The National Herald, to the point that they had to take out a loan of seven million dollars from Alma Bank, using their office buildings in New York as collateral.
From an internal audit conducted at the Archdiocese, initiated by the then Treasurer, entrepreneur Michael Psaros, some peculiar financial transactions and practices were discovered. This led to the hiring of the company Kiwi Associates in December 2017, which, among other things, audited the payroll of the Archdiocese and identified “excesses” also in the use of an American Express credit card.
It is worth mentioning that The National Herald had also pointed out the complete lack of internal procedures and controls, as highlighted in the report by the Grant Thornton company, which was hired to study and suggest a reorganization of the Archdiocese’s operations. The cost of the study was personally covered by Michael Psaros.
Following the findings of Kiwi Associates, the Archdiocese itself referred the matter to the office of the Attorney General of the State of New York, which conducted its own investigation with the full cooperation of the Archdiocese. The prosecution brought criminal charges against two employees of the Archdiocese, Dimitriou, and George Papadakos, Director of Finance, who reported to Dimitriou.
On November 25, 2019, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ruth M. Mendonça, Assistant Inspector in Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, announced the arrest of Dimitriou. The statement released by the prosecutors detailed the charges.
It is emphasized that both Dimitriou and Papadakos pleaded guilty and were dismissed from the Archdiocese.
It is reminded here that at that time the Archbishop was His Eminence, Geron Demetrios of America, the chancellor was Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, and the Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council was George Tsantikos.
In the News Release of the Archdiocese dated August 3, 2023, a written statement by Archbishop Elpidophoros is quoted in English, in which he states the following: “With Mr. Dimitriou’s guilty plea, a painful chapter in the Archdiocese’s history is now over, and the Archdiocese can set its sights on a future that reflects our shared values of community and faith.”
The full text of the Archdiocesan News Release follows:
“Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Announces Guilty Plea and Sentencing of Former Executive Director Jerry Dimitriou
NEW YORK, NY (August 3, 2023) – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America announces the guilty plea and sentencing of Jerome “Jerry” Dimitriou, its former Executive Director of Administration. This concludes a lengthy legal process that was initiated by the Archdiocese in late 2017 when it became aware of financial irregularities and self-reported to governmental authorities in the State of New York.
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service subsequently conducted an investigation with the full cooperation of the Archdiocese and brought criminal charges against two former Archdiocesan employees, Mr. Dimitriou and George Papadakos, the Archdiocese’s former Director of Finance, who reported to Mr. Dimitriou. The investigation culminated in felony guilty pleas from both Mr. Papadakos and Mr. Dimitriou.
The Archdiocese response to the unfathomable betrayal of trust by these two employees was swift and resolute. In addition to cooperating with the authorities on the investigation, the Archdiocese successfully filed an insurance claim under its crime policy to recover more than $1 million of losses associated with Mr. Dimitriou and Mr. Papadakos. The Archdiocese has also taken a number of steps to prevent any similar incidents from ever occurring again.
First, the Archdiocese has implemented strong internal controls over financial transactions that reflect the highest standards of integrity and security. This includes: the creation of three full-time positions (Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel), and a Standing Audit Committee. Second, the Archdiocese has established a centralized third-party platform for whistleblowers to file allegations of violations of Archdiocesan policy or law, such as financial misconduct. That platform, located at https://goarch.ethicspoint.com/ is nationwide and includes the Archdiocese, its Metropolises and all its parishes. Finally, under His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, there is an ongoing process to revise the Archdiocese’s structure to provide for a stronger, more coordinated form of governance with transparency, compliance, and accountability at its core.
Archbishop Elpidophoros, whose tenure began well after the criminal acts of these employees, expressed gratitude that the legal process was finally over. In addition, His Eminence noted “With Mr. Dimitriou’s guilty plea, a painful chapter in the Archdiocese’s history is now over, and the Archdiocese can set its sights on a future that reflects our shared values of community and faith.”
When this article was originally published, it stated that the charges were related to Jerry Dimitriou’s financial management at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America while serving as its Executive Director of Administration. A press release issued by the Archdiocese stressed the same point, at length.
Mr. Dimitriou’s lawyer corrected that via email. The National Herald has since made changes to the article. The full text of the email follows:
We have seen your article reporting on the result of the federal criminal case against our client, Jerry Dimitriou, who was sentenced yesterday by the Honorable Katharine P. Failla to home detention for failing to pay $17,833.32 in personal taxes.
Your article incorrectly reports that Mr. Dimitriou’s sentence was related to his management at the GOA or his supposed embezzlement from that institution. Those allegations were related to the original charges against Mr. Dimitriou, which were dismissed by the court upon motion of the prosecutors. As such, and as was abundantly clear at yesterday’s proceedings, those allegations were deemed wholly irrelevant to the sentence, and the GOA was deemed not to be the victim of Mr. Dimitriou’s offense. Because your article reports otherwise, we ask that you immediately retract those statements and issue a correction.
The National Herald has seen the sentencing document of August 2, 2023 regarding “Nature of Offence – Evasion of Tax Assessment,” which notes “ALL OPEN COUNTS – are dismissed on the motion of the United States.” At this time, however, it is not clear that the “open counts” are the matters referred to in the GOA news release.