BOSTON – Greek Orthodox priest George Athanasiou, from, the parish of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Canonsburg, PA, was arrested on Wednesday, November 29, by the police on over two hundred charges of embezzlement from the Community he served. The embezzled amount totals $117,000 and the matter was revealed by the television station CBS KDKA Pittsburgh.
Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh took immediate action and suspended Father Athanasiou from all priestly duties pending the completion of the legal process. In a letter dated November 29, 2023, addressed to the presiding clergyman Father Dimitrios Kyritsis, the Community Council, and the members of the community, he informed them that he suspended Father Athanasiou. Among other things, Metropolitan Savvas wrote in his letter:
“As you may have heard, Fr. George Athanasiou, your beloved assistant priest, was arrested today and charged with theft of parish funds. The arrest comes following an internal investigation initiated by members of the parish leadership when certain discrepancies regarding the parish’s stewardship emerged. Community leadership then passed the information to local law enforcement, who took over the investigation, leading to Fr. George’s arrest.
“The criminal justice system will conduct its work and we, for our part, have taken or will take the following steps:
Fr. George has been suspended from priestly ministry until the conclusion of the legal
proceedings. During this time, he will be unpaid and his liturgical and sacramental responsibilities will be suspended.
We – Metropolis and Parish – will fully cooperate with law enforcement as they continue the investigation to determine the scope of this theft, including its duration and the aggregate amount of stolen funds.”
According to reports and authorities, the embezzlement occurred either through checks intended for the community’s support or via ATM. Father Athanasiou reportedly signed the checks destined for the Community, deposited them into his account, and then withdrew cash through ATM transactions.
Detectives found from bank documents that Father Georgios Athanasiou made 220 cash withdrawals totaling $117,000 from April 2022 to November 2023 via ATM. The Police stated that during a search conducted in his apartment, they found the card he used to make ATM withdrawals. According to the Police, Father Athanasiou admitted to stealing money due to personal difficulties.
In communication with The National Herald, the presiding clergyman of the community of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church Father Dimitrios Kyritsis, said: “He was an assistant priest here. I am new to the community. He was here before me, serving with the late Father George Livanos.”
Father Dimitrios further stated that “the letter arrived in our community from His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, and we greatly appreciate his support.”